Thursday, 25 June 2015

Launch of ‘Maria’s Family’ books in East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Friday 29 May 2015 saw the highly successful launch of ACIAR’s ‘Maria’s family’ books at the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) in Kerevat. Kiteni Kurika, Elizabeth Ling, the local women’s cooperative members and local schools were invited to the launch and to receive their own copy of Maria’s family goes to market book.

Maria's family book

In full PNG style, there was a banner on the main road at the Kerevat turn-off, a stage decorated with balloons and wonderful PNG flowers, shade areas for the 100+ primary school children who attended, a display board of the project activities, aims and program, and a display of ‘big books’ made by teachers and children from two local schools, and a display of the big and small Maria’s family books!

Amazingly, Kiteni managed to get the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Leo Dion, to launch the books!

The cultural welcome dance and procession for the DPM was given by some of our VCEs from Sundown out of Vunapalading and their young men, then one of our recipient primary schools welcomed each dignitary with a flower lae (mind you the DPM got one made of shell money), national anthem sung by another recipient school, a prayer opening by another VCE Pastor Ningi and then the speech making began! Unlike other events I have attended like this, the speeches were actually about the project and the potential community impact of the Maria books. There were many women speakers – Kiteni, Elizabeth, Carol Missiel (VCE leader from Tinganagalip) and myself, and then we were followed by a speech by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Leo Dion, announcing Maria books for schools in East New Britain. Kiteni and I (middle and right) can't hide our happiness. Source: Barbara Pamphilon

He spoke very powerfully about the crucial place of agriculture in PNG, and the recent policies to strengthen commitment to this. He spoke about women (and this part was not part of his prepared speech as he directly responded to the previous speeches) and the importance of working to strengthen women’s capacity through strengthening families.

The Deputy Prime Minister then announced K200, 000 funding to ENBWYIACS – Kiteni’s smile was huge!

Not only that, but then he announced he would fund the ‘Maria’s family’ big books for all primary schools in East New Britain Province!! There were now two giant grins - my smile was up there with Kiteni’s.

What a successful day!

By Professor Barbara Pamphilon, University of Canberra

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