VSA has been in Papua New Guinea since 1970 and works with partners to strengthen the quality of education, community support networks and secure livelihoods for rural people. Since 2005 we have concentrated our efforts to work in the New Guinea Islands' three provinces: East New Britain, West New Britain and New Ireland. Our volunteers work for local government and NGO partner organisations in such diverse areas as agricultural advice, gender equality, and IT training. VSA has a field office in Kokopo, East New Britain, staffed by a Programme Manager and a Programme Administrator.
Papua New Guinea has a majority Melanesian population of around six and half million people. Numerous indigenous languages are still in use by people from a society that ranges from traditional village-based life to modern urban living.
Underlying the Papua New Guinean culture is the wantok system. Wantok, or ‘one talk’, refers to the people who speak your language or your extended family/clan; a Papua New Guinean's primary loyalty will be to their wantoks. The country is predominately Christian, with indigenous faith and spirituality still important to many local people.
What we’re doing in Papua New Guinea
In the 2016-17 year, volunteers undertook 11 assignments with 28 partner organisations in Papua New Guinea. VSA’s Papua New Guinea programme, based in the New Guinea Islands, has had a focus this year on education, health and economic growth. The chronic shortage of qualified teachers is badly affecting the quality of education. For these reasons, VSA volunteers collaboratively work with all the teacher training
institutions in East New Britain to improve their capacity and capability with the ultimate goal of improving education standards by producing more competent, qualified and skilled teachers.
Volunteers also worked with Callan Services for People with Disabilities to support community outreach and access to education for children with disabilities. VSA continued its long relationship with the Catholic Archdiocese of Rabaul, with volunteers working in financial advice and working towards opening East New Britain’s first safe house for victims of gender-based violence.