This last week has been a roller coaster of emotion for me. In my day job I work for an Australian relief and development agency and my main role is overseeing programs in Papua New Guinea. It feels like Fiji, or Vanuatu, the Melanesian warmth and hospitality is the same, but PNG has an edge.
There’s a sense of adventure and wildness that keeps me on my toes and alert to what is going on around me. Poverty and unemployment is high, HIV/AIDS is epidemic and violence against women is horrific and out of control.
Girls are groomed for marriage and home duties from a very young age, in some areas illiteracy is 80%, education is not a priority and is not compulsory. It simply isn’t seen as being valuable, especially for girls.
Many of the organisations we work with have little that is positive to say about PNG and certainly when we are there, some of many Aussies who work in the mining industry often question why we would bother, when it is such a lost cause.
Call me naive, call me the glass half full optimist, whatever you like, but in my experience when you put your hand to something within your reach to achieve, and support people to find their own solutions to their challenges, anything is possible!
This week I met with men who mediate peace between warring tribes in their violent region, I heard story after story of women who were on the street with their children who have now turned their lives around through microfinance, I spoke with women leaders of a church movement who are drivers of change in their communities and had the privilege of spending last Sunday at a vibrant church in a village where they prepared a traditional lunch cooked in the ground, pigs, chickens, root crops and greens all in!
Like our work in Fiji, these stories and experiences enrich my life, they move me to tears and as is my nature, I can’t help but connect with the raw humanity of it all.
Trying to change the world all at once is overwhelming and fairly impossible. But what is within your reach?
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Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’