Situated on the Fly River near the border with Indonesia, Kiunga has become a significant port for the growing mining and liquid nitrogen gas industries. This has led to a rapidly expanding population – from 7,000 in 2002 to as much as 30,000 today. In turn, this has led to the problems of crime and unemployment. There’s also a significant West Papuan refugee population.
Communities such as Kiunga are working to overcome issues and problems that are a result of their remote location, lack of infrastructure and minimal access to education and skills training. The most urgent community development challenges in Kiunga are: transport to remote villages, unpredictable and very changeable weather patterns and the development of ownership, responsibility and sustainability of the projects by the people.
We help fund a program that trains people working in health centres and aid posts in the North Fly region. Training is conducted at 8 health centres and more than 20 aid posts and covers five modules, namely: volunteerism, learning about health, self-help care, healthy children and healthy mothers. Many of our trainees go on to become birth attendants and travel to remote regions assisting women in labour. This has helped to significantly reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.
A new pilot project in the village of Drimdamesuk has upgraded and improved an existing AidPost Clinic. The installation of solar panels and a water tank has made this AidPost operational giving them a clean water supply and electricity. This means that medicine and vaccines can now be stored correctly and refrigerated.
Remote Girl’s Hostel
The La Sagesse Girl’s Hostel in Kiunga is providing much needed safe accomodation for young women who would otherwise not be able to commute to and from school safely due to living in remote and often isolated villages. The remoteness of large parts of the western province is a major barrier for youth from isolated villages to access education beyond primary school. The distance to further education facilities makes it impractical, so primary level is the only option available to them. The hostel facilities now enables female students aged in their 20s to complete secondary education and vocational training courses in Kiunga.
Through workshops focusing on gender based violence and parenting skills training, Mercy Works, is aiming to minimise violence in families and communities in the Northern Fly region of PNG. Sadly, PNG has some of the highest rates of domestic, gender and sexual based violence rates in the world. These programs aim to educate families and communities about these issues, how to prevent them and work through problems and issues without resorting to violence.
Students from the Western Province who reach Grade 12 and obtain a place for further education (for teaching, nursing, university or technical college) face many challenges. There are no tertiary institutions in the province and so they must travel by plane to access further education. This adds even more to the costs of realising their dreams. The area is in dire need of skilled young people to staff schools and health centres and provide role models for the next generation. We’re helping sponsor 30 students so they can complete their tertiary education.
Remote Teacher Training
Remote Teaching Training is conducted at the Senior Teaching Academy to up-skill teachers to be able to provide more educational assistance to students of all ages. By improving the skills of teachers in this region, Mercy Works, is aiming to improve the education of students at all levels.
St Gabriels Technical College
In 2014 donor contributions supported the building of two new dormitories for boys and girls, with ablution blocks. This project is currently underway and is nearing completion. Two Toyota Coaster Buses were delivered successfully in 2016 to provide transport for students to get to school and home again safely each day.