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 4 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 Village Health Volunteers and travel to remote regions assisting women in labour. This has helped to significantly reduce maternal and infant mortality rates as well as assist in providing health information to the community and providing linkage with nearest health services.
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 accommodation 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 – in some cases a six day walk – makes it impractical, so primary level is the only option available to them. The hostel facilities now enables female students aged between 15 and 25 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.
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.
Literacy Teaching Training Project
Women and young girls are some of the most disadvantaged when it comes to accessing the education in Papua New Guinea. The training of women to become literacy teachers in remote villages will grant the opportunity to learn how to read and write to for women and young girls in those villages.
These workshops are conducted in two places along the Fly River in the Middle Region and the South Region, with both regions having one group of 10 women each.
Cocoa Cash Crop Initiative
With cocoa bean production in PNG reaching 35,000 tonnes in 2021 – and it being one of only 23 countries recognised by the International Cocoa Organization for its fine flavour, Mercy Works is promoting cocoa as an alternative cash crop to support families in Iowara.
200 Cocoa farmers are being educated in planting and cultivation as an income in our Cocoa Cash Crop initiative. The goal is to see each farmer cultivate between 300-500 cocoa trees on a two-to-three-hectare cocoa plantation within a few years. So far they have introduced 18 varieties of cocoa buds, created from a clone seed in a mini-nursery. 10,000 root stock are being planted with the aim of creating a whole new economy for the impoverished area which faces many challenges including climate change, geographic limitations and difficulties accessing markets.