Goroka / Mt Hagen
These towns in the PNG highlands are surrounded by fertile land. Their rapidly growing populations face many issues including unemployment, high crime rates, domestic violence and poor access to health and education. Many people coming from other locations have to live in settlements, building their own makeshift homes.
Located in the centre of both towns, our drop-in centres are available for information, referrals and emotional support.
Skills Development & Awareness Raising
Responding to local requests, we provide training sessions at the Mercy Works drop-in centres and by visiting settlements and outlying villages. We often use local skilled people to carry out training in areas such as dressmaking, cooking, growing and preserving vegetables. We support these training sessions with budgeting and marketing training so people can lift their skills and earn a living.
In Mt. Hagen, Mercy Works is focusing on the following programs:
- Agricultural Skills through the introduction of farming bulb onions
- Emphasis on raising awareness and the impact of climate change through the planting of eucalyptus and bottle brush trees
- Informal education and skills development for women and men with a special focus on youth and their families
In Goroka, Mercy Works is focusing on the following programs:
- Regular weekly radio broadcasts sharing and transmitting crucial information to remote parts of the province
- Informal education training and skills development for women and men with a special focus on youth through music, drama and art workshops
Youth & the Environment in PNG
Life & Skills Training in PNG
Every fortnight in Goroka we hold the Mercy Market. Here, people who have attended our training sessions are able to sell their wares and demonstrate their skills. As well as providing support for people trying to establish small businesses, the markets act as an inspiration for others on what can be achieved by learning skills. Those with access to mobile phones and internet, are also able to advertise their wares on Facebook.
Radio is a vital means of communication in PNG as every village has access to a radio, even if they don’t have electricity. In Goroka and Mt Hagen we have weekly programs, highlighting human rights, discussing rights and responsibilities and spreading important information.
Raising Awareness – International Days
We take advantage of international days to lift people’s awareness of their rights and available services. Days we participate in include:
- International Action for Women’s Health
- International Day for Action against Drug Abuse
- International Day for the Elderly
- World Youth Day
- End Violence Against Women
- World Environment Day
World Environment Day
Mercy Works in Mt Hagen began celebrating World Environment Day 2017. The staff have actively sought to promote this event each year since. World Environment Day is held on the 5th of June every year. To help celebrate this day, the Mt Hagen team invite local groups from all church denominations from primary schools, village youth groups and ‘Shalom Friends’ (People living with HIV Aids) to participate in the day’s activities of planting trees. Planting seedlings gives them opportunity to watch their work grow over time and to witness the change this initiative is making. The types of seedlings chosen are eucalyptus and bottle brush brought from the Forestry Department. Over three years, they have planted between 25,000 to 30,000 trees, one person for each tree.
In 2020 there will be 56 young people taking up tertiary studies because of donor generosity. These students come from Wewak, Goroka and Mt Hagen regions. The scholarships cover the course tuition fees, accommodation and travel. A small monthly allowance is also paid to help with extras in their time away from home while studying.
While this program overwhelming supports youth without the financial means to access tertiary level education, we also support students such as Majella, who after 17 years of teaching has returned to university as a mature age student to further enhance her skills with a Bachelor of Education.
Sustainable farming practices are a key element to our Life & Skills Training programs in Goroka/Mt. Hagen. Focusing on using the land in a sustainable way will ensure that it continues to provide for future generations and supply enough crop yields to support families.
The Onion Planting project began in 2017 and united the three communities in the Provinces of Jiwaka, Western Highlands and Eastern Highlands. Bringing together the knowledge from the Mercy Work team with the land owned by the people in these provinces this project commenced. Planting trees and planting onions all began as part of raising awareness of taking greater care for the environment in 2017. So far, this program has trained over 600 local people – including youth, both boys and girls – giving them the skills and knowledge to further their farming practices.
Before the introduction of this program, the youth in all three provinces had settled into habits associated with negative behaviour such as stealing and substance abuse. However, the investment in their training and skills from the sustainable farming of onions has turned this around, giving them a reason to look at their futures in a more positive way.
Youth Projects in Mt. Hagen
Small To Medium Enterprises provide access to seed funding which assists with the needs of those in the settlements. This allows produce and other items to be sold at table markets allowing people to buy food and support their families.
Mercy Works in Mt. Hagen has provided skills training for people interested in starting their own small to medium sized enterprise or business where they can sell produce or wares to support themselves and their families. Young men and women are now able to support themselves and their families buy earning enough to purchase food, roofing and other housing materials to build and improve existing dwellings.
Stepping Up – Empowering Women Project, Goroka
Mercy Works provides training to women to give them the skills and knowledge to set up their own small to medium businesses to support themselves and their families. Women who have received this training are further supported to ‘Step Up’ by developing their basic skills further and empowering them through providing the tools and materials required to make their businesses sustainable into the future.
This project provides items such as sewing machines, materials, cooking equipment and ingredients for these women to make clothing, cook and make produce to sell at their local markets. These communities rely on small businesses to provide these items to them which only strengthens the demand for items such as bilums and meri blouses (women’s clothing). Demand for food produce such as bread, pies, cakes and jams is also increasing as the presence of these items is meeting a need within the community.