Social Concerns Notes – September 2015

40 years in the wilderness; let’s head towards the promised land

18 September 2015   by Joe Kuman

OUR beautiful country Papua New Guinea has reached 40 years of political independence and its citizens have every reason to celebrate. In this mood of festivity someone approached me with a green label bottle of SP and punched the air declaring, “If you burn your kunai thatched house knowing you can afford roofing iron, why not!” He pointed at the onlookers and added: “It’s 40 years of independence and you lot need to live in a high covenant house.” Anyway it was the 40th Independence anniversary and I recall those who existed on that day when the Australian flag was lowered so we could raise the red, gold and black that carried PNG into the sky in a bustle of the wind but was firmly tied to a pole plunged into PNG’s soil. There guarded by our three disciplined forces and looked upon by our founding fathers Sir Michael Somare, Sir Albert Maori Kiki, Dr John Momis, Sir John Guise, Sir Ebia Olewale and so many others who had carried the flag forward to independence.

Amongst the many criticisms and condemnations of our leaders for corrupt practices, positive developments have happened over the last 40 years. Our nation’s capital, Port Moresby, is growing quickly with buildings and facilities that are of 21st century architectural design. Other urban centres are also experiencing booming infrastructure development. The country is resource rich and many Papua New Guineans are becoming millionaires through hard work and perseverance. Communications have changed dramatically from that era when my parents used to call their relatives through smoke-making, shouting, waving brightly coloured cloth or having to pass messages from one person to another from ridge top to ridge top. It is now a matter of fingering the right digits on a mobile phone whether you are in the bathroom, toilet, garden or on a hunting trip or bus ride or anywhere on this freaking earth. This is development. Highlanders are courting and marrying coastal partners. New Guinea Islanders are flocking to the mainland and vice versa to start new lives that contribute towards nation building. Intermarriage has extended far and wide within PNG – and abroad, The bonds of family and relationship extend across the globe.

The issues of accessibility, equality and participation in major developments remain great challenges and many people complain and protest, especially in the disadvantaged areas of the country. While urban dwellers celebrate with fireworks, drums, sound systems and disco lights, the rural community of this great nation may not be participating.

I went to my provincial capital of Kundiawa last weekend to sort out some family obligations. I came across few youths who came from their home village for a spin in town and asked what they had to celebrate during this independence anniversary. I explained Independence was time to celebrate our political independence when someone interrupted and asked the other youths, “Yumi independent ah?”  (“Are we independent?”) Another youth replied, “We’re not independent but our country is independent.” A third member added, “We’re independent so why are we borrowing from Australia, China and other countries?” I remained silent and allowed them to ask and answer their own questions and comments. Then there was one who had completed high school who explained to the others that “PNG is politically independent but economically dependent. We individuals are interdependent because we live in a society where we depend on each other for survival!” The group nodded approval and I reflected that coming from a disadvantaged area like Yuri did not deter these young men from conceptualising what independence is all about. They understood it is a matter of accessibility, equality and participation. Let’s hope the 40 years in the wilderness are over and that we can now head towards the promised land of success and prosperity. Go Papua New Guinea!

Keeping the fire of unity alive: An enduring legacy

21 September 2015 Busa Jeremiah Wenogo

PAPUA New Guinea‘s road to independence, although often said to be offered on a golden platter, was actually achieved after overcoming many internal challenges. Many people were not sure what independence was or what it would bring to them. In such a fragile environment, where anxiety, confusion and hope reigned, the idea of independence disturbed the populous. The fact that this did not result in social melt-down is a real victory of PNG’s independence’ a victory orchestrated by our nation’s founding fathers. It was achieved by unifying diversity under one flag and constitution. Gaining independence from Australia was a great victory but I think PNG’s enduring legacy will be its ability to unify a land characterised by diversity.

Even today our biggest challenge is reaching out to the unreached. PNG was and is very much a nation of many nations. In a nation so diverse it was inevitable that the subject of autonomy was going to be hotly debated. Bougainville led the way in pushing for autonomy and now it is – perhaps – at the cusp of gaining independence from PNG. Other provinces are now joining the autonomy bandwagon. If this is an early indication of a domino effect at play, I certainly hope it will not be realised. We have come so far and it is not in anyone’s interest to see PNG fragment and divide. As our nation embarks on reaching new heights of development, two key words – unity and autonomy – will be crucial in shaping the next 40 years.

Viewed from where we are now, progress and development has taken place with unprecedented speed. So much is at stake and so much rides on our ability to keep the fire of unity alive. This is where we must be very careful in treading the future. If we are not vigilant and wise, PNG could become just another remnant of history. History is littered with accounts of nations rising and falling, unifying and defragmenting. What has happened in Europe and the former USSR is a lesson. There are increasing signs that indicate PNG’s unity is on shaky ground. Democracy in this country has been deformed and reformed so many times in parliament that the democratic idea is vague to many Papua New Guineans. When asked what is democracy, many Papua New Guineans identify the term with a parliamentary system of government which allows constituents to exercise their rights every five years and choose their representatives. Not bad but not enough. Parliament should conduct itself in a manner that preserves democracy and the rule of law. But already people are beginning to develop a mentality that there are two sets of laws, one for “big men” and the other for the rest of us. While this is not the case, there are certainly loopholes that will need tightening. Furthermore, while the constitution has embedded the idea of unity, it has recently come under great duress due to upheavals at the political level.

I am suggesting a national course of action to drive and preserve unity. Every school in PNG must have in its possession a Bible, a copy of the Constitution and new PNG flag. These are the three important symbols of our unity and our nationhood…. Furthermore, during the Independence Day, it should be made compulsory across the nation that no provincial flags will be hoisted or promoted.

This is not the time to entertain the idea of a divided PNG but a unified PNG. When we aspire to be a regional and global player we cannot allow this nation to be divided by internal factionalism.

So what does the future hold for PNG? As a nationalist I want to be optimistic because there is no better country than our own. But as a realist I can’t help being a bit pessimistic about its future.

There are worrying signs that our people are becoming disenfranchised by the lack of opportunity and poor delivery of services. In PNG it is known that the country operates on the principle of who you know rather than what you know. If this continues to be the trend for the next 10 years, more Papua New Guineans will demand the right to self-determination as a way to break out from this systematic and systemic form of corruption. This is a recipe for disunity.

I agree with the slogan “PNG Em yu ya”. Change as we know it must begin with each and every one of us. When we do change it is important that we inspire people around us to change. If we allow ourselves to be beaten down by our acts of corruption, sooner or later the PNG that we know today will not exist.

Doctor: Rural Practice is Good.

Post-Courier, 07 September, 2015

PORT Moresby brought up girl, Maggie Taune, loves the life of a rural doctor at Mingende Catholic-run Hospital in Chimbu Province. She is one of two female medical students among a group of five that graduated two years ago from the Masters program on rural health at the University of PNG School of medicine and health sciences. Dr Taune shared her experience at a specialty meeting for rural and remote medicine in Port Moresby on Saturday, saying it was not easy making a decision to work in a rural area, but particularly in the Highlands. However, the benefits are enormous, including the respect she has earned by the local community that she serves. “There is a huge sacrifice you make in rural areas,’’ she said. These include not having the shops where you can go and do your shopping so you have to make-do with what you have. Ms Taune is single and she says having a family would no doubt be a challenge to her decision to work in a rural area because women usually go where their husbands go. The reasons that made her choose a career in a rural area included not being employed at the time as well as wanting to do something adventurous. The career benefits she has gained include being frontline leader in the hospital and being a voice for the people. “The community will have a lot of respect for you which you build over time,’’ she said. Of the 1168 doctors in the country, 60 are women, 19 of them are specialists in child health while others are in various other specialist medical care.

Disaster report: Eight districts face Category 5 disaster

Post Courier, September 21, 2015

EIGHT districts in the Highlands provinces’ are currently experiencing Category 5 of the disaster, the final report from the National Disaster Office says. These districts comprise 1.09 million people, said Chief Secretary to the Government Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc who released the updated report last Friday. He named the eight districts as Tambul-Nebilyer in Western Highlands, Lagaip-Porgera and Kandep in Enga; Imbonggu and Ialibu-Pangia in Southern Highlands, Gumine and Kundiawa-Gembogl in Chimbu and Margarima. Category 5 drought is extreme situation, famine food only being eaten, and-or water in very short supply, and-or many people ill, and-or small children and old people seriously at risk.

Some of the provinces’ districts are currently experiencing Category 3 drought, including Wabag, Mendi-Munhiu, Kagua-Erave, South Waghi Rural, Chuave, Sinasina-Yongomugl, Salt-Nomane, Kerowagi, Unggai-Bena and Henganofi. Category 3 is where conditions are difficult, with food reduced and some famine food being eaten, and or water available only at a distance, and or some babies and old people unwell. No lives at risk. Other provinces, Morobe, Manus and East New Britain have been ruled out and are experiencing Category 1 drought but are being managed.

Melanesian brother murdered in Papua New Guinea

Posted on: September 17, 2015

The Anglican Church of Melanesia announced today that a member of the Melanesian Brotherhood (Solomon Islands) in Popondetta, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea has been murdered.

Br Tolbon Diwaero was killed late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning by unidentified persons on his way back to Domara Household, the Church reported via Facebook. Br Kelliot Betu, Regional Secretary of the Papua New Guinea  Melanesian Brotherhood Region said that it appeared Br Diwaero was “mistakenly murdered” as he passed a village where there was a clash between two groups. Further details about the incident are unknown at present. The Church is asking for prayer for members of Papua New Guinea Brotherhood.

Lae bishop attacked

The National, Monday August 31st, 2015

THE Catholic Professionals Society of PNG (CPSPNG) has condemned an attack on Bishop Christian Blouin of Lae Diocese in Lae a week ago. According to CPSPNG president Paul Harricknen, Blouin was attacked when he tried to stop some street preachers carrying pictures of the Pope and cardinals and abusing the Catholic Church. “When the street preachers were preaching, a Catholic nun walked past the crowd, who were listening to the preaching, and they booed at her, Harricknen said. “She was upset so she went and reported the incident to police and also rang Bishop Christian and told him of what the street preachers were saying.” Harricknen said when Blouin arrived there and approached those street preachers and told them to stop such preaching, the crowd reacted and started throwing stones at the bishop and one hit him on the head. “This is totally uncalled for and an unprovoked assault, a clear case of people abusing freedom of speech and a breach of the right to freedom of religion of other street preachers. “Their actions, without doubt, amounted to criminal offence of breach of the peace, assault and spreading false rumours and we want to know what the Lae police has done or is doing with these street preachers.”

Preach fairly, preachers told

The National, Thursday September 3rd, 2015

STREET preachers should stick to the Word of God rather than discriminate against or criticise other denominations in public, police said. Lae Met Supt Iven Lakatani cautioned the public speakers after he confirmed that he had received a complaint about a Catholic bishop of the Lae diocese over a week ago. “Nobody is stopping them (street preachers) from preaching in public places. But I have been advising them to avoid preaching in places or locations that are risky,” Lakatani said.

He said such locations like in front of shops may cause inconvenience.

Lakatani said he would make sure that both parties (the Catholic Diocese of Lae and the street preachers) come together for a reconciliation and to have a common understanding to prevent such incidents in future. President of the Catholic Professionals Society Paul Harricknen condemned the attack, saying it was ‘totally uncalled for and an unprovoked assault’. “There are many street preachers who preach and share God’s word genuinely, but there are those who have nothing better to preach but to talk and gossip against other churches and denominations,” he said.

Independence, drought, generosity & the art of giving Kerry Kimiafa.   01 September 2015

GOROKA Grammar School in the Eastern Highlands incorporates and teaches Moral Education alongside the core curricular subjects of English, Maths, Science and the Social Sciences.

This it does with the fervent hope that the future citizens of this beautiful country will uphold and practice good ethics and values in the lives they lead and also when the baton of the family changes a few years down the line.I want to share with Papua New Guineans one of the virtues the school looked at recently; generosity, which I define as the art of giving. A message about generosity is very timely in the spirit of independence that will reverberate from the mountains to the coast and which has been with us since 1975. This year may be a little different in the sense that Papua New Guinea is turning 40 years old. I write this at a time when two million people in the Highlands have been hard hit by the combined effect of drought and frost. It is my firm belief that all the citizens of this country, members of parliament, affluent citizens of this country, friends of Papua New Guinea and business houses who do business here should collaborate and rally in support of those in distress at this time. There is no better time to reach out and give to the needy and practice the virtue of generosity. We cannot spectate on the sideline and expect the government to do this single-handedly –it should be a massive effort of givers, distributors, agencies and implementers on the ground. …

The fortieth anniversary is a good time to repent and start ingraining morals and ethics into our conduct starting from the tea boy all the way up to the member of parliament. On 16 September, Independence Day, we should all reflect on and evaluate what we have done right and what we haven’t done right. If we can do this, I am sure we will be on the right road to prosperity and greater wealth for our citizens….

Dear Mister Speaker, I am very concerned….

31 August 2015 Raymond Sigimet

DEAR Mister Speaker – With due respect, I am speaking my mind about the removal, destruction and burning of Papua New Guinean cultural items and objects, action which you have instituted as Speaker of the National Parliament. Mister Speaker, are you not from Papua New Guinea? Does it not hurt you inside as a Papua New Guinean to be the mainstay and advocate of this unwarranted attack and obliteration of our cultural items and objects? Does it not occur to you that some of these cultural items and objects are uniquely Papua New Guinean and are representations of our people and country’s contribution to world art and culture? Mister Speaker, amongst other objects, you have replaced the totem carving in the National Parliament and now I read that you are leading the burning of all representations of what you term traditional “idolatry and witchcraft” in the Parliament grounds.

Is Parliament the new seat of worship for our country now? Mister Speaker, you are occupying a neutral chair but you are dictating to the people of Papua New Guinea that ancestral, cultural and ritual institutions of our people in the form of carvings, masks, chants and dance should be done away with.

You are suggesting that Papua New Guineans should not express themselves artistically or spiritually in any form other than the one you envision and prescribe. Mister Speaker, are you telling me that the Sepik carvers have sinned in their creation of the carving you removed from Parliament?

Are you telling me that the Tolai people have sinned in performing the Tumbuan and Dukduk ritual dances? …..

Should you be unchecked, our country in the future will not be “Papua New Guinea, a land of diverse people and cultures” but “Papua New Guinea, a land of fundamentalist religious people with no culture of our own.”

Somare slams prayer day advertisement

Post Courier, August 27, 2015.

FORMER Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare says people should not be misled by the true intentions of the National Prayer and Repentance Day. He said when he was PM in 2007 he had dedicated a day of prayer by signing a covenant with church leaders. “The day is for everyone to meet together and pray for the country, not to stage activities that are outside of the day’s activities,” Sir Michael said on Tuesday, responding to a program for this special day published in a newspaper advertisement.

He expressed his concern at a media conference with the members of the PNG Council of Churches.

The advertisement caused an uproar among a cross-section of the community and churches centred on plans to collect the Aliyah offering and a name change of the National Prayer and Repentance Day to National Destruction Day where the country will burn down cultural artifacts. He said his intention of signing the covenant was to unite the people, give thanks and pray for the country. Sir Michael added that he was concerned about the misunderstanding of the day and urge the people not to follow misleading information published about the Aliyah offering and the burning down of idols.

UN slams torture

The National, Monday August 31st, 2015

The United Nations has condemned the recent brutal torture of two women in Southern Highlands and other cases of sorcery-related violence reported by local media. The UN said in a statement that these attacks violate a person’s fundamental right to life and to be treated with dignity and respect, and constitute a violation of a person’s right to be free from cruel and inhumane treatment guaranteed under PNG’s national constitution and international human rights commitments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women. The UN has called for urgent action by authorities to provide protection as well as medical and psychosocial support services to these victims and any persons subjected to violence.  “Prompt and thorough investigations, arrests and prosecutions in fair trials by the law and justice sector are vital for restoring confidence in the rule of law. “Over two years after the high profile torture and murder of Kepari Leniata in Mount Hagen, the continued impunity for perpetrators of violence related to sorcery accusations in PNG is a grave concern.” The UN system commends frontline police officers and others who have taken action to provide protection to victims of sorcery accusation-related violence and urge other law enforcement authorities to follow this lead.

The UN commends the Government for leading the development of a Sorcery National Action Plan, which has been submitted to the National Executive Council for endorsement. The SNAP calls for urgent multi-sector action to end sorcery accusation-related violence.

Polygamy remains main cause of gender violence

Post Courier, August 28, 2015

POLYGAMOUS relationships continue to be the main cause of violence against women and children at least in the Highlands Provinces. The Parliamentary Committee on Health and Family Welfare, which has been holding inquiries in Mount Hagen and Goroka on the subject of violence against women and children, has been told that mothers and children suffer greatly as a result of men having more than one wife. In Mt Hagen witnesses who came as far as Mendi and Wabag spoke of their experiences in dealing with the issue. They said besides polygamy, financial problems resulting from excessive consumption of alcohol and gambling were contributing factors in the increasing cases of violence against women and children in the two provinces. Sister Josephine Mason of Wabag hospital in Enga Province says domestic violence in Wabag was high and in fact is common throughout the Highlands region. “Polygamy is the main cause of domestic violence. It leads to physical and sexual violence and trauma. And the children are also affected,” she says. “How can we sort out polygamy in the Highlands region?” Sr Monica, a mental health nurse for 10 years at the Mendi Hospital, says records for the hospital showed a high admission rate of mothers and children who were mentally affected because they could no longer bear the pressure of violence from within the family. Doctor Sylvester Tati, a specialist doctor in Enga Province, told the committee in rape cases that he has dealt with, some of the victims are as young as two or three years old. But what is more intriguing, he said, is the fact that no justice is done for the victims when family members and relatives opt for compensation rather than pursuing the course of justice.

Women bleeding to death common

Post Courier September 01,2015, 01:54 am

A WOMAN bled to death about five minutes away from a hospital while people went about their normal duties is not an uncommon story in this country. But it had to be told again yesterday by Dr Lahui Geita, a senior officer from the Health Department to stress the importance of Papua New Guinea, as a society changing in order to see a big improvement in the women’ s health.

While many may have heard these statistics from a 2006 demographic health survey before regarding the poor health of women in PNG, he said the situation has not changed. According to that survey, 1400 women die annually from childbirth related problems which is four every day. “Four women die every day just because they are pregnant, often from unplanned, unwanted pregnancy,’’ he said.

He said PNG had strategies to improve health of mums through programs such as village birth attendants and is increasing the number of midwives that it is training. Currently, however, all its health facilities in rural areas are run by community health workers. “By the end of this national health plan we should be able to provide 500 midwives,’’ he said, in reference to 20 midwife trainees that are graduating from five nursing colleges.

Climate change advocate ready for Fiji trip

Post Courier September 01, 2015.

A CLIMATE change advocate who has been walking around parts of the country to create awareness on climate change issues is set to take off for Fiji. Latin N’Drihin, who started walking to conduct awareness on climate change in 2010, has walked from Bogia to Madang, then Madang to Lae in 2011. Despite being robbed in Watarais in Markham, a determined Mr N’Drihin continued his walk to Lae City and also spent three days walking around the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium. In 2011, he campaigned against global warming by walking around Port Moresby for five days and a night walking around Sir John Guise Stadium. In 2013, he travelled to New Ireland Province where he walked from Kavieng to Namatanai on the Boluminski Highway and has so far worn out one pair of boots which was donated by KK Kingston Limited.

“This is part of my global campaign to promote peace with nature, which is for mankind to care, have respect, love and understand God’s creation and have peace with the environment.

Solomons Police say domestic violence increasing

20 September 2015 Solomon Star

THE Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) has recorded an increase in family domestic violence around the country. Statistics showed more than 400 cases were recorded in 2014. From January to August this year, the cases have increased to more than 500, the police media unit said.

“These statistics come as a result of the RSIPF National Community policing Unit continuous community awareness talk and education program since January 2015,” the unit said. The revelations come as Guadalcanal police charged one man in his 40s in relation to the death of a 30 year old woman. The man allegedly bashed up his wife on Father’s Day. Police investigations found the deceased was at home preparing dinner for the family when the husband showed up and called her into their room, where he brutally bashed her up. The woman laid unconsciousness in a pool of blood.  She was only awoken to the noise of her children crying when they tried to wake her up. The mother was quickly rushed to the National referral Hospital by relatives, but died three days later. The husband has been charged with murder.

The following weekend, police said they also attended two more cases of serious injuries at Kakabona community, where two women were attacked by their husbands, leaving one with a broken forearm and the other with internal bleeding on her chest. Police are continuing to investigate the report and urge public assistance to the incident.

Land dispute, threats Guadalcanal

22 September 2015 Solomon Star

Good  Samaritan Hospital at Tetere, Guadalcanal Plains has now been re-opened after it was temporarily  closed on Friday 18th September.  A press statement from the hospital management said, the chairman of the hospital board  Dr. Joel Denty, had directed the closure of the hospital services after staff were threatened last week. It stated that since April 2015, interested parties were putting up stalls for marketing outside the hospital premises, adjacent to the homes of the nurses. Promises to re-locate the market  stalls were not kept. It said instead, permanent structures were being put up, soon after the meetings.  Sale of alcohol and gambling together with other unwanted activities  continued to the harassment and annoyance of the nursing staff and their families. The statement said, matters turned ugly when two separate groups claimed ownership of the said land, even though the Salesians of Don Bosco Solomons Trust holds the title of a fix-term estate for 50 years from the Land Registry. The Don Bosco complex and the hospital complex are located in this land. To counteract the claims of one group that put up permanent structures, the other group cut down the rain trees along the road.  This had created tensions and even hostility towards the staff of the hospital. The Director of Health Services, Dr. Joel Denty had  instructed the hospital to be re-opened, having received assurance of the police protection. Over 30 staff are serving in the Good Samaritan Hospital.

Lack of funds force St John to stop services

Post Courier September 03, 2015

LEADING first aid charity St John Ambulance Service is winding down its services as of today because it does not have money to continue operating. The charity since 1957 operates in Port Moresby, Central Province and Wewak in East Sepik Province. Chief commissioner Andrew Kalai said yesterday they are forced to close because the Health Department has not allocated operating funds. Mr Kalai said St John enjoys a cordial and mutual working relation with the department until this year when differences arose over review of the memorandum of understanding which enables Health to remit funds each quarter to St John. Mr Kalai said while these differences are being sorted, St John Ambulance Service will cease all operations because of lack of funds. “Yesterday was Government pay day. We do not have money in the bank to pay salaries of our 70-plus staff in National Capital District. “We also have only 100 litres of fuel remaining. “The MOU would allow Health Department to pay us but since it is not signed, we are only hoping and praying for miracles to happen,” he said.

Health workers off payroll since June

Post Courier, September 08, 2015

CHURCHES that provide health services such as the Catholic Church have not received monthly grants from the Government for salary and operational costs since June. Christian Health Services, which oversee the grants from the Government to church health workers, has confirmed that they had not received salary and operational grants from the Government for the past four months. There are about 4000 health workers working in various health facilities run by the churches.

Post-Courier could not get comments from the individual church health agencies, but the Catholic

“Why? What is the reason for this travesty of justice? The reasons are unclear. The Catholic Church Health Services strives to provide the highest standard of health care to Papua New Guineans, the vast majority of whom cannot afford to travel overseas for their health needs. It is grateful for the dedication and commitment of its staff,” it said in a statement. “However, Catholic Church Health Services recognises that its staff are professionals with financial commitments who cannot afford to work without pay.” It said there is a need for the Government to release the salary and operational grants to churches so that they can continue to run their health services. “Billions of kina were spent on successful running of the Pacific Games. The Catholic Bishops of PNG and the Solomon Islands released a statement rejoicing in the importance of the Games for the country and the region.

“However, a more basic need is health care. How can the churches be expected to provide salaries when promised funds do not come and when their health services are already underfunded?”

It added: “Like other Churches, the Catholic Church already highly subsidises the health care services that it provides. This is a basic issue of justice not only for the health workers concerned but for the whole community.”

Drought closing schools and hospital in PNG’s Chimbu

Post Courier, September 10, 2015 Story courtesy of Radio New Zealand

The governor of Chimbu Province in Papua New Guinea says the effects of El Niño there are so severe schools are closing, public servants aren’t working and the hospital is shutting its doors.

Noah Kool says 300,000 people in the province have been affected by frosts and drought, which has caused water supplies to dry up and food gardens to be destroyed. Mr Kool says the lack of water in Chimbu’s main town, Kundiawa, is an emergency situation. “For our town water, [I’m] looking around for money to pump in water from another source to the town, and keep our hospital open, so we can address the diseases that come to our hospital. And help our public servants to have water so they can be ready to face, go out and address the El Niño issues as well.”

Island Fresh Water Turns Salty as Food Gardens Die

Post-Courier, 31st August,

The effects of El Nino are widespread and their impact on small island communities is no exception. The people of Ware Island in the Samarai-Murua district in Mine Bay are feeling the effects of the current drought. This group of people with a population of just over 1000 have not fully recovered from the impact of tropical Cyclone Ita that devastated parts of the province in April last year. This time, they are faced with another natural phenomenon. The chairman of the Ware Island community in Port Moresby, David Noel, and islander Ken Tency, shared their concerns at the weekend about drought on the island with dried water wells, fresh water that has turned salty and parched gardens that are evident. Mr Tency, who recently came from the island, said gardens have dried up and the population has experienced minimal garden harvest. Made even worse are the dry cracks in the soil and the land is so dry that villagers cannot even plant crops. “Our water from the water wells taste of salt. Coconuts are not bearing nuts like they used to. Their growths are stunted,” Mr Tency said. He said there are a few water tanks on the island but they have run out of water.

The worst frost and drought in Papua New Guinea since 1997: What happens next?

Mike Bourke. 3 September 2015 4:30PM

Of Papua New Guinea’s population of about 8 million, 80% are rural villagers who produce most of their own food. This makes them vulnerable to extreme weather events. Reports of severe impact on food crops from the recent frosts and ongoing drought in Papua New Guinea are coming from most areas in the Central Highlands. This is where over 40%, or more than 2.5 million, of rural villagers live. [For full article, see url above]

PC School fee woes, dry spell take their toll

Post Courier, September 18, 2015

PLAGUED by non- payment of tuition fees and the long dry spell, schools, especially large boarding schools throughout the country have ceased classes. Some are at the brink of closure, as students anticipate whether they return and complete the academic year after their third term holidays.

The term holidays begin for public schools on Monday. Last week, the Bishop of Bereina Diocese Rohus J Tatamai released a statement about the deplorable situation of non-payment of tuition fee by the government to schools resulting in cessation of classes for Mainohana secondary school and technical school in Bereina and Sacred heart high school in Tapini. A diocesan education board last week approved the cessation closure of the school and grades seven, nine and 11 are being sent home. Grade eight, 10 and 12 will be sent home right after the national examinations.

Post-Courier also has reports from parents that Marianville secondary in the nation’s capital has similar issues. Meanwhile in the Alotau-Sideia Catholic diocese, one of the secondary schools has similar problems with non-payment of TFF. Students have been told by the head of the school to await messages whether grades nine and 11 students would return to school after the holidays.

The river that supplies water to the school has almost dried out. Aitape diocese education secretary Henry Kairo says that the non-payment of TFF is an ongoing issue but most schools have asked parents to pay K500 to subsidise for the TFF shortfall.

Victims of Sex Trafficking Freed

Post–Courier, 18 September, 2015

A number of young girls from Central Province, who are victims of a sex trafficking ring, have been rescued in the Highlands after being sexually exploited for an extended period of time. Mr George Gigauri, head of human rights watchdog International Organisation for Migration, made this known yesterday. Mr Gigauri said the IOM mission in Port Moresby had been tipped of a situation of potential victims of sexual slavery in the Highlands region and, with police help, conducted the rescue mission. He could not give detailed information, saying it was a very sensitive issue. We have to be very careful because these girls’ lives would be in danger from the traffickers. “It was all women, less than 10 of them who are believed to be over 18-years-old,” he said. Sources told the Post-Courier eight of the women were from a Motuan village while two were from Central Province villages were allegedly promised jobs, given money and taken by helicopter to a Highlands province where they were subject to beatings and sexual abuses. “Unfortunately this is not an isolated case,” Mr Gigauri said, adding the IOM was finding more and more innocent people subjected to forced labour and sexual slavery whose lives were in grave danger.

Drug addiction rife among teens

Post Courier September 22, 2015

DRUG addiction is one of the most widespread psychiatric disorders among children, according to the National Narcotics Bureau (NNB) acting coordinator of education and awareness, Lawrence Tau.

“Papua New Guinea’s 12-year-olds and older have experiences of addiction with a big percentage of them being addicted to alcohol as well,” Mr Tau said yesterday. He said many of them end up at the Laloki psychiatric hospital from ward six at the Port Moresby General hospital. When referring to the 2013 Laloki psychiatric hospital report, he said there were a total of 211 patients suffering from respective mental disorders. However, Mr Tau added that the number has increased. “Soon PNG’s younger generation will use syringes to heighten their senses,” Mr Tau said. He said unlike other areas in the Pacific where injecting drug use are the primary concern, PNG seems to be experiencing more problems with cannabis and home-brew alcohol. This can lead to disability. He added those after taking heavy steam and marijuana, develop “Motor Neuron Disease where nerve cells (neurones) control the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, breathe and swallow”. Motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of diseases in which these neurones fail to work normally and muscles then gradually weaken and waste. Early symptoms are often mild where they may include stumbling due to weakness of the leg muscles, difficulty holding objects due to weakness of the hand muscles, and slurring of speech or swallowing difficulties due to weakness of the tongue and throat muscles.

Do not take the law into your hands, says Lakari

The National, Wednesday September 23rd, 2015

WESTERN Highlands provincial police commander Chief Supt Martin Lakari has warned the people not to terrorise, kill or punish anyone suspected of practising sorcery. Lakari said under the Sorcery Act, alleged sorcery practitioners must be handed over to police to be charged. He warned people not to become “judge, jury and executioner” as they would not escape punishment for taking another person’s life. He said early this month 10 women were saved from being tortured and burned to death at Minimb and Kuip villages outside Mt Hagen city. Lakari said quick action by him and his policemen saved the women’s lives. He said the 10 women could have been burnt to death or tortured in front of their husbands and children.  “The fire was ready and relatives of the dead person could have been planning different type of punishment before they could have burnt these women alive,” Lakari said. “Something bad could have happen if I was not there.  “I believe there are many killings related to sorcery taking place everywhere. “You are not supposed to take the law into your hands by taking away the life of a citizen. “Under which section of the law allows you to go ahead to kill another person? “You do not have any rights to take the lives of an innocent person. “The Sorcery Act is in place and laws can be applied instead of you making your own judgment by taking the law into your hand. “You need to change your primitive mentality and let the law to deal with sorcery related killings.” He urged the people not to take the law into their hands.

Papua New Guinea helpline flourishes as country deals with endemic violence

Papua New Guinea’s first free telephone counselling line has received nearly 250 calls in its first month of operations, as the country struggles to deal with “extreme” levels of domestic and sexual violence. The hotline has received 246 phone calls since starting on 20 August and nearly 50% of callers were men. [See full article at url above]

Unique Irugl mother of life centre needs more Good Samaritans 30 August 2015 Mathias Kin

HERE on a beautiful and tranquil 500 square metre block two kilometres upstream from Denglangu Catholic Mission Station, live more than 50 special children with their guardian Martin Tine and his wife Gertrude. They are orphans and children without parents and their home is the Irugl Mother of Life Centre (MOLC). MOLC is located on the side of Papua New Guinea’s highest mountain, Mt Wilhelm, in the Gembogl District of Simbu Province. Irugl MOLC was established in March 2003 by a Dutch lay missionary in honour of his late wife, Agatha, a local girl from Sako clan, who had married Martin van der Palen at Denglagu Mission in 1967.

After they returned to the Netherlands, Agatha died after a short illness. On her death bed, she asked Martin to go back to Irugl to set up a special school for the disadvantaged children of the area.

Martin honoured Agatha’s request and returned to PNG in early 2003. Using his own resources and with help from his Irugl in-laws and financial assistance from friends in Holland, Martin erected a classroom, a dormitory, a small church, living quarters for caretakers and a prayer house. The first 10 children moved into the centre in June of that year. Irugl MOLC is now 12 years old and home to more than 50 disadvantaged children aged from five to 15 and all from around the Gembogl district.

[For the full article, see the url above]

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