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Trusting in the bright future of Bougainville’s youth

We spoke to our Bougainville Country Program Manager James Neo to gain some more insight into his personal journey with CUFA and the hard work and trust needed to get this project running smoothly and efficiently.

Tell us about your career before CUFA

Prior to working for CUFA, I have been working within the development arena for over five years coordinating and implementing donor funded development projects with various organizations, covering the UN Women (formerly United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women-UNIFEM)’s Supporting Gender Equality in the context of HIV/AIDS project, the International Organization for Migration (IOM)’s Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Project, and the PNG Institute of Medical Research, coordinating the sexual and behavioural research studies across PNG.

After delivering and reporting on IOM’s DRR pilot project outcomes in April 2014, I was offered another opportunity to pursue further studies through the Australia Awards Scholarship. At the end of 2016, I was conferred a Masters in International Development at the Flinders University, Australia.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  

Relaxing and hanging out with friends always make my spare time fun and being energised in preparation for the forthcoming week’s tasks.

What do you hope to achieve in your role at CUFA?

I hope to put a smile on the faces of the youths in the remote communities of Bougainville through our participatory and inclusive programming. Youth led initiatives are supported, ensuring that youths’ independently find solutions to their local problems and become model citizens in order to build a stronger, and prosperous society    

What has been the highlight of your role so far?

We are a small team of 6 staff, but putting the Bougainville Youth Initiative (BYI) project on track through community consultation and trust building efforts has been achieved through consorted efforts from the CUFA Bougainville staff. So my motor is “Together we can” and everyone deserve special recognition for their tireless efforts in delivering the program outcomes way ahead of the targets.  

What has been the most challenging aspect?

I have encountered two key challenges and these are firstly, building community trust and confidence after certain staff tarnished the image of CUFA’s program, and secondly, getting my hands around the processes and systems required for reporting.

What impact do you see CUFA having in Bougainville?

It would be premature to talk about the impact of the project as I am new, however, CUFA’s BYI project have changed the attitudes and behaviours of youths, not only through the training programs, but the ability of the youths to be innovative in designing micro business development concepts, taking the lead in mobilizing resources with co-support from CUFA to implement these initiatives. This demonstrated to have significant changes in the lives of youths and the idea of dependency on handouts has become something of the past and CUFA’s project anticipates to promote youth’s that are self-reliant and able to be the agents of change in their respective communities.  

To find out more and directly support the Bougainville Youth Program, contact us HERE.

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