FAQs Returned Volunteers

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VSA in Papua New Guinea

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.


Living and Working in Papua New Guinea


Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training in tok pisin at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during assignments. Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. Papua New Guinea is typical of many developing countries where people do not usually approach things head on. Talking about family and local issues is often required before getting down to discussing what you as a volunteer may want.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation but you may be asked to share accommodation with other volunteers as there is a shortage of housing.

Dress standards

Papua New Guinea is conservative and some western-style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events.

Health

Malaria is endemic in many parts of West and East New Britain, and New Ireland, and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around towns and major centres in East New Britain and New Ireland, but more caution is needed in West New Britain. Land ownership is complex and strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission. Take care when walking alone and avoid this at night.

Banking and finances

Banks are found in all provincial centres – Westpac, ANZ, the Bank of the South Pacific and the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation. We open a local bank account for volunteers once they arrive in PapuaNew Guinea where monthly living allowances are paid into. Debit cards are available and you’ll find ATM/Quickcash machines at town centre locations with an increasing number of shops also having EFTPOS machines. Some hotels/guest houses accept foreign credit cards, as do Air Niugini. Local currency is the Kina. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

There are two cellular providers, B-Mobile and Digicel. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. International connections, though, can be unreliable, especially during the day when sent text messages can fail or take hours to get through. Internet connection is very limited compared to New Zealand. Internet cafes are available in Kokopo and Kimbe, but connections are not reliable and internet speed (generally dial-up) is slow. Wireless ‘hotspots’ around business and hospitality complexes are available in a growing number of centres. In East New Britain, Telikom have recently introduced wireless prepaid telephones that connect to the internet and cost PGK55. Both Telikom and Digicel have USB modems available, costing around PKG199 and PGK84 per month for 100MB downloads.

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In-country partner profile

Ailan Awareness Inc.

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An interview with Johannes Gambo

Since 2015, Johannes Gambo has been the Programme Manager for VSA’s Papua New Guinea programme.

Read more

Quick facts


  • The isolated mountain ranges are often home to unique fauna and flora found nowhere else in the world.

  • The country is home to some 700 Papuan and Melanesian tribes.

  • There are three official languages: Tok Pisin, English and Hiri Motu, plus 836 indigenous languages (about 12% of the world's total). Most languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

  • Dealing with Papua New Guinea's many active volcanoes is all part of life.

  • The wreckage of the bomber flown by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbour, lies in the jungle a few kilometres off the Panguna-Buin road.

  • The beetlenut is a popular Papua New Guinean treat. Chewing it turns people’s teeth a strong orange-red colour.

  • PNG has a Human Development Index rating of 157 (2014 UN Human Development Report).
Source: CIA Factbook , Lonely Planet , National Geographic , UN Development Programme International human development indicators

See how this compares to NZ standards

NZ Quick Facts


  • New Zealand’s wildlife is dominated by an estimated 245 bird species. New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other place on earth and no native land mammals except for bats.

  • Auckland is the biggest city. The other main centres are Hamilton, Wellington (the capital), Christchurch and Dunedin.

  • New Zealand has a Human Development Index rating of 6.

  • Polynesian settlers arrived in Aotearoa New Zealand around the 10th century. The first Europeans to visit the country were Dutch explorers led by Abel Tasman in 1642.

  • The Māori name for the country is Aotearoa: “land of the long white cloud.” The English name New Zealand comes from the Dutch Nieuw Zeeland, a region in the Netherlands.

  • In 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi established British law and government, and was followed by warfare in the 1840s and 1860s as Māori sought to defend their lands and local authority. The country became a dominion of Britain in 1907 and became independent in

  • The official languages are English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language.

  • New Zealand has more than 50 volcanoes, some of which are still active.

  • New Zealand has about 0.1% of the world’s population, but produces about 0.3% of the world’s material output.

Contact

If you are interested in becoming an in-country partner organisation with VSA in Papua New Guinea, contact us at the address below. Alternatively, email us by clicking the 'Contact us' button right at the bottom of this page.

VSA, PO Box 2247, Rabaul, PAPUA NEW GUINEA



Aaron Horrell (Past volunteer)

VSA volunteer profiles

Aaron Horrell (Past volunteer) – Training Assistant

Aaron Horrell was a Training Assistant at the Kairak Vudal Resource and Training Centre, Papua New Guinea. He was on a UniVol assignment which finished in December 2012.


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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.

PNG page pic 1 PNG page pic 2

What we’re doing in Papua New Guinea

 

VSA’s priorities in Papua New Guinea centre on access to public services and economic development.

With a large rural population and limited infrastructure it is difficult for people to access public services such as health and education. VSA is working with the Provincial Government to get public service projects driven at a local level, so that local needs are better addressed.

Government funding is not always sufficient to provide all services. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and churches fill these gaps. VSA volunteers work with NGOs who rely on foreign aid money to ensure that funding processes are transparent, services are provided and funding remains secure.

VSA supports civil society: non-governmental organisations that provide for and enrich the community, such as schools and health facilities. By providing training in skills such as book keeping, management, working with people with disabilities, database management and human resource management, VSA volunteers are helping to strengthen the organisations that help build up Papua New Guinean communities

In this way, VSA is helping to ensure immediate community needs are met.

Approximately 85 per cent of the workforce live a semi-subsistence rural lifestyle, and entering a cash economy is difficult. Through exchange of skills, VSA volunteers are helping to create opportunities for sustainable livelihoods. Our volunteers work at community level to create opportunities for rural people, especially women, and support vocational training opportunities.

 

Read about a UniVol's year in Papua New Guinea in Aaron Horrell's 2012 blog.

 

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A visit to East New Britain
My Tolai family and volunteer wantoks
An interview with Howard Iseli, Programme Manager (Papua New Guinea)

 

 

 

Living and Working in Papua New Guinea


Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training in tok pisin at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during assignments. Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. Papua New Guinea is typical of many developing countries where people do not usually approach things head on. Talking about family and local issues is often required before getting down to discussing what you as a volunteer may want.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation but you may be asked to share accommodation with other volunteers as there is a shortage of housing.

Dress standards

Papua New Guinea is conservative and some western-style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events.

Health

Malaria is endemic in many parts of West and East New Britain, and New Ireland, and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around towns and major centres in East New Britain and New Ireland, but more caution is needed in West New Britain. Land ownership is complex and strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission. Take care when walking alone and avoid this at night.

Banking and finances

Banks are found in all provincial centres – Westpac, ANZ, the Bank of the South Pacific and the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation. We open a local bank account for volunteers once they arrive in PapuaNew Guinea where monthly living allowances are paid into. Debit cards are available and you’ll find ATM/Quickcash machines at town centre locations with an increasing number of shops also having EFTPOS machines. Some hotels/guest houses accept foreign credit cards, as do Air Niugini. Local currency is the Kina. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

There are two cellular providers, B-Mobile and Digicel. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. International connections, though, can be unreliable, especially during the day when sent text messages can fail or take hours to get through. Internet connection is very limited compared to New Zealand. Internet cafes are available in Kokopo and Kimbe, but connections are not reliable and internet speed (generally dial-up) is slow. Wireless ‘hotspots’ around business and hospitality complexes are available in a growing number of centres. In East New Britain, Telikom have recently introduced wireless prepaid telephones that connect to the internet and cost PGK55. Both Telikom and Digicel have USB modems available, costing around PKG199 and PGK84 per month for 100MB downloads.

Living and Working in Papua New Guinea
Language and culture

VSA assignments usually last two years, so local language training is important. We provide basic language training in tok pisin at the start of assignments with follow-ups if necessary during assignments. Understanding local customs is vital to a successful assignment. Papua New Guinea is typical of many developing countries where people do not usually approach things head on. Talking about family and local issues is often required before getting down to discussing what you as a volunteer may want.

Housing and living conditions

We provide volunteers with basic, furnished accommodation but you may be asked to share accommodation with other volunteers as there is a shortage of housing.

Dress standards

Papua New Guinea is conservative and some western-style clothing is not appropriate. Loose fitting, light, cotton clothing is best. For men, choose long pants, knee-length shorts and short-sleeved shirts. For women, dresses, skirts and t-shirts are commonly worn – sleeveless shirts are also acceptable. Don’t expose skin above the knee though, especially when attending traditional events.

Health

Malaria is endemic in many parts of West and East New Britain, and New Ireland, and all our volunteers must use malarial prophylaxis. Other precautions are still recommended, such as insect repellent and long sleeves / trousers in the evening if outside and a mosquito net if you are staying in villages. Skin infections can develop quickly so have a good supply of plasters, antibiotic cream and antibiotics. Public hospitals are found in all provincial centres and smaller health centres are scattered throughout rural areas. Health care is basic and you’ll need to be responsible for managing your own health while on assignment.

Safety

We provide all selected volunteers with a thorough security briefing and specific local issues are covered during your in-country orientation. In general, there are no problems moving around towns and major centres in East New Britain and New Ireland, but more caution is needed in West New Britain. Land ownership is complex and strangers cannot wander freely through private or empty land without first seeking permission. Take care when walking alone and avoid this at night.

Banking and finances

Banks are found in all provincial centres – Westpac, ANZ, the Bank of the South Pacific and the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation. We open a local bank account for volunteers once they arrive in PapuaNew Guinea where monthly living allowances are paid into. Debit cards are available and you’ll find ATM/Quickcash machines at town centre locations with an increasing number of shops also having EFTPOS machines. Some hotels/guest houses accept foreign credit cards, as do Air Niugini. Local currency is the Kina. Visit XE.com for current exchange rates.

Cell phones and email

There are two cellular providers, B-Mobile and Digicel. Coverage is generally good within urban areas but fades quickly as you move to rural locations. International connections, though, can be unreliable, especially during the day when sent text messages can fail or take hours to get through. Internet connection is very limited compared to New Zealand. Internet cafes are available in Kokopo and Kimbe, but connections are not reliable and internet speed (generally dial-up) is slow. Wireless ‘hotspots’ around business and hospitality complexes are available in a growing number of centres. In East New Britain, Telikom have recently introduced wireless prepaid telephones that connect to the internet and cost PGK55. Both Telikom and Digicel have USB modems available, costing around PKG199 and PGK84 per month for 100MB downloads.