Mid February came the TV1 news item – “'It's been agonising' – Government puts PNG on notice over millions owed to Kiwi businesses”. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully was interviewed about the news that New Zealand companies are owed millions of dollars by the Papua New Guinea Government. Next week an item on the Australian news reported that PNG had lost its voting rights at the United Nations over unpaid annual contributions. That article went on to tell how the state owned electricity supplier, PNG Power, had cut supply to several government agencies, including the national Parliament, because of unpaid bills totalling over $11 million. Then in early March came news of the PNG Government asking the Australian Government to use their aid money to directly support health and education because they are struggling to support these services themselves.
Established in 2008, the Chandpur TCDC project is Banzaid’s longest running programme. The project, managed by Baptist Aid Bangladesh, set out to provide a variety of community development services. A husband and wife team went to live in each village, among the people they were working to help. They began with adult literacy. As they identified the poorest families in the village they then started to work with them to build development activities: community health care; savings groups; training in income generating activity; and things like home composting for kitchen gardens. Alongside this were pre-school groups, and tutorial classes to help older children to be able to attend the local government primary schools.
Simon, a 58 year old farmer, lives in a small village community in Papua New Guinea's Baiyer Valley. He describes the people of his village as poor but happy. "We don't have electricity or running water. We live day to day, but we are able to meet our necessities in life," he tells us.
A married man with two young children, Simon is grateful for the work of the Baptist Church in his village. He speaks of the tribal fighting which afflicted his community from 1997 – 2011, and credits the Church for helping restore peace in the region. "The Baptist Church helped in a big way, through church leaders conducting negotiations, mediations, and resolving conflicts. If it was not for the Baptist Church, the fighting would still be here. The Church plays some major roles in the community here – liaising for peace, and establishing health and education facilities."