News: Building houses and building capacity/Keep Palms in PNG

Building houses and building capacity

I’ve spent a great deal of time working on plans for 6 projects in the lower Bamu area. The lower Bamu is a depressed area where people live mainly on fish and vegetables. They live on silt, which is often under water. We have to build schools, health centres and houses for them.

The problems amounted to how to get some 11–20 containers of buildings and supplies to Bamu without a port, how to dispose of sewerage without causing a health problem, and how to keep the buildings level as they sink in the silt. I have had fun liaising with a shipping company. We decided on a barge and tug combination for transportation—handy for getting all the containers in.

At each of the sites, I have to unload building material in about twelve hours, the time between two high tides. I need thirty-five people and fifteen canoes to do it. I have to provide all the meals for the workers on the day, but also a meal the day before, so they are moderately able to do the work required. The Parish Priest is going to have his work cut out for him just organising the local labour. The projects are estimated to cost about K3.0 million of which K0.5 million is being spent on transportation.

The interesting thing—on which the Bishop has made comment—was the allowance I have made for things that were never considered in the past. These include the project management costs of visiting suppliers and coordination of transportation, plus cost escalation, especially as PNG inflation is around 10% due to oil industry activity.

John  Gartner, an engineer from Western Australia, is volunteering as a Management Support Services Trainer for the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga in PNG.

Keep Palms in PNG

50 years ago Palms Australia prepared Clair Redfern, our first volunteer to Papua New Guinea. Since then 900 Palms volunteers have worked in every region of the country.

For security reasons, AusAID is currently unwilling to support Palms Volunteers placed in Papua New Guinea, though we remain as committed as ever to continuing our work with our partners in PNG. Our relationships and networks are too strong to abandon. Our history and knowledge of PNG are too valuable to waste.

Currently we have three volunteers with the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga and three at Divine Word University in Madang. Many other communities would also like a volunteer.

We need your help, as one who understands the importance of Palms’ work in PNG, to demonstrate your support by helping us fund these placements. Visit http://www.palms.org.au/community/donate/ post a cheque to PO Box 976 Glebe 2037 or call (02) 9518 9551 to make a donation.

We will continue making the case that the Church in PNG and our unique connection to it makes Palms Australia the most capable agency in Australia when it comes to ensuring volunteer security in PNG.

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The end of extreme poverty is at hand, within our generation, but only if we grasp the historic opportunity in front of us. - Jeffrey Sachs