Nothing but Bright Days Ahead in Bougainville

From Kundi Lay, International Program Manager.

Joy for proud mother Alice as her daughter finds wings on CUFA’s Bougainville youth project.

Alice, a 45-year- old mother of three, works as a housekeeper and a cook for the Rotokas Guesthouse in Wakunai District, Arawa, Central Bougainville.

Alice lives in a small house with her husband and children in Rotokas village. Her husband works as a driver and leaves home at 4.30am every morning, returning home around 10pm, leaving Alice to look after her three children.

Working full time and with little schooling herself, Alice struggled to support her children’s studies. As a result, all three failed to finish school and weren’t able to find full time jobs. Her two sons have had to leave home to work as casual labourers on the cocoa farms.

Then in February this year, CUFA’s new youth project reached her village. The project, called “Rot Bilong Ol Yangpla Blo Bihain Taim” or “Youth Pathways for the Future”, funded by the Australian Government, helps Bougainville’s young people build a brighter future, free from poverty. It follows CUFA’s economic empowerment approach – a hand up, not a hand out – focusing on improving the financial literacy and enterprise skills of youth in the region, and ultimately improving their livelihood and employment opportunities.

Alice was so excited to see CUFA staff in her village that she encouraged her 18-year- old daughter to attend every session. She explained that it had been hard to motivate her daughter to go back to study – but she was determined to ensure her only daughter had opportunities that never had.

With guidance and skills provided by CUFA, her daughter soon became an active participant in the agricultural cooperative, where she and other unemployed young people in the village to grow a variety of crops.

Early this month (August 2016), the young people harvested their first crop of cabbages and sold them in Buka town for a large profit, which was then shared with every single coop member. Alice couldn’t be more proud.

As a reward for her daughter’s hard work, she opened a savings account in her name, with the first deposit being her shared profit. Alice couldn’t conceal her joyful smile as she thanked CUFA and the Australian Government for their support that has not only transformed her daughter, but so many other young people in her community.

Alice says that the program has benefited both the young people who attended the program, their parents and the whole community as a whole.  Even government officials from Alice’s village were astounded at how much the program has changed the youth’s behaviour and the financial and micro enterprise skills they have gained.

And for Alice herself, she has now learned family budgeting, how to spend carefully and continues to save in case of an emergency.

Asked if she was also saving for her retirement, Alice confidently says that she was saving for her only daughter’s study because she believes in education.

The activities implemented are part of the Australian Government’s support to CUFA under the Bougainville Youth Initiative (BYI). The Australian Government continues to provide support to Bougainville under the initiative to encourage youth participation in Bougainville’s economic and social development.

Read more about CUFA’s work in Bougainville here.

CUFA has worked extensively in the Pacific region, with over 20 years’ experience in Papua New Guinea (PNG). During this time, CUFA has built a number of strong relationships with a myriad of local civil society organisations who represent a number of industries across PNG. Through these networks, CUFA will engage up to 10,000 youth between the ages of 15 to 25 in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

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