PNG - Kiunga - MercyWorks
The population of PNG is approximately 7 million people dispersed over about 600 islands. There are over 700 language groups, all with their own cultural identities. The sense of nation and the justice system are weak and politics at all levels, chaotic. There is a severe shortage of medical staff and facilities.
Much of the population live in isolated areas that are difficult to access as there are no railroads and few roads. It is not surprising that that rural people are largely dependent on subsistence agriculture that is handicapped by poor soils, steep slopes and heavy rainfall. As the percentage of the population living below the poverty line is in excess of 25%, many people migrate to towns to find jobs which are scarce. This leads to violent crime.
Kiunga is situated in the North Fly district, which is the most heavily populated and developed district of the Western Province. The area has become a significant port for the growing mining and liquid nitrogen gas industries which has led to a rapidly expanding population: 7,000 in 2002 to around 30,000 currently. This, in turn, has led to increased crime, unemployment and domestic violence. In addition, there is a significant West Papuan refugee population. Issues faced include provision of safe water, safe affordable housing, peace-building in families and communities, access to higher education and the ability to create income-earning projects.
Mercy Works runs a program that trains people working in health centres and aid posts in the North Fly region. This program was expanded to involve all 8 health centres and all aid posts (20+). As well, it runs programs that provide life skills training for women, both at The Home of Hope in Kiunga and in outreach areas. It also conducts workshops in the villages to minimise violence in families and communities. The Home of Hope has a low-cost child care centre where children learn motor skills and basic health and hygiene. In addition, a sustainable resource - The Eaglewood Plantation - is being developed. Eaglewood (or Agarwood) is highly prized for its perfume and incense and PNG is one of the last areas in the world where it grows naturally. Students are sponsored to further their education beyond year 12.
What is Lenity Australia’s involvement?
Lenity Australia is funding a community development program to support the implementation of the Village Works Program that focuses on healthier pregnancies, healthier individuals, families and communities through mentoring and supervision. These programs are also delivered across 10 villages through community action and participation exercises.
Lenity Australia is committed to the project of Mercy Works Kiunga as it promotes better health outcomes from birth to adulthood.