This month we hear from Celia Boyd, Oaktree’s PNG Country Manager:
Recently we went to PNG for 12 days to conduct monitoring and evaluation of Oaktree’s current project in Yangis and also to scope for new potential partners and projects to take on from 2011. This was the first-ever monitoring AND scoping trip to PNG, and an exciting indication that Oaktree is ready to work more deeply in this amazing country.
After much research and meeting with a wide variety of organisations we identified three key issues facing young people in PNG:
• Access to quality formal education
• Youth Unemployment
• Access to education for girls
During our trip we met with several organisations doing some amazing work which addresses these problems. From these, two stood out. City Mission works in Port Moresby to help young men and boys who are unemployed, homeless, have little or no family support, and/or are involved in criminal activities to turn their lives around. They are provided with a safe environment in which to stay for up to 18 months and learn a variety skills in basic vocational training, such as literacy, farm management, carpentry and hospitality. City Mission assists them through this training program to develop and even to find casual and full-time employment in Port Moresby. Although this program is extremely successful for male youth, there is not yet a program available for women; which is why Oaktree is interested in helping City Mission to create one. This program will provide basic training in areas such as literacy, basic book keeping, secretarial skills, sewing, computer literacy and more to up to 100 women per year. Oaktree therefore has the opportunity to help City Mission to change the lives of between 400 – 600 young people per year, over three years, in PNG.
Another potential project is one proposed by the Madang Provincial Youth Council. Madang is a rural province in PNG made up of hundreds of villages and a larger town. The Youth Council seeks to provide training for a number of young people throughout Madang and equip them with leadership skills, so that they can pass this training on to their peers. Training will subjects such as basic business management and financial literacy. These young people will also be assisted in setting up village-level youth councils throughout Madang, so that youth may have representation at village and provincial government level. The PNG Government has also pledged a significant amount of money to provide unemployed young people and their families with the opportunity to access a micro-credit scheme so that they can set up small businesses.
Obviously both of these organisations are doing fantastic work. But which is the potential partner for Oaktree? How can we have the deepest impact possible; through basic vocational training and assistance in finding employment for at-risk young men and women in Port Moresby, or through providing training for youth and setting up village-level youth councils throughout Madang, so that youth can potentially have greater opportunities and representation at government level? Do we look at the potential numbers of people who will be impacted, or the depth to which their lives will be changed? Do we want to be more involved in individuals, or do we want to play a part in impacting upon provincial government? And which is possibly more of a risk for us to take on?
Share your thoughts. Have your say in the future of Oaktree’s work in PNG!