Caritas begins PNG relief program

This week Caritas Australia is embarking upon a joint effort with the Archdiocese of Madng to implement the Manam Island Relief Program, which follows last year's devastating volcanic eruptions that forced the evacuation of 11,000 people.

Caritas says a second massive eruption rocked the island on 28 January this year, but it received little attention because of the Boxing Day tsunami.

Many locals will never return back to Manam Island due to the severe destruction. The islanders are currently living in formal and informal care centres north of Madang town, relying on aid assistance for food and medicine.

"The people are used to hardship, but this is real poverty", said Archbishop William Kurtz of Madang.

Caritas Australia will be working alongside the Archdiocese of Madang to implement the Manam Island Relief Program, which will see assistance given in education, health and the retrieval of canoes and fishing equipment for food sustainability.

"We are now moving into the relief work very heavily. We are about to start on building classrooms and health centres and to retrieve canoes from Manam Island", said Archbishop Kurtz.

"The retrieval of canoes is going to be a much bigger task than we initially thought. We are going to end up bringing back 90 canoes. However, this will greatly help with the long-term sustainability of the people because they can fish again", said Archbishop Kurtz.

The eruptions destroyed school classrooms, which has disrupted schooling of the local children. The program will provide education facilities so that the children will have an opportunity to resume their schooling in the centres.

Medication and health centres are also badly needed.

"Through this program we are focusing on sustainability, in which we are assisting and encouraging the locals to become self-reliant again. Caritas is assisting the displaced people to build classrooms and health centres so that the Manam people can get some normality back into their lives", said Justine McMahon, Caritas Australia's Pacific Region Coordinator.

Caritas Australia is responsible for the monitoring of this program and has allocated $200,000 as an initial support.

Manam Island Relief Program (Caritas Australia 3/6/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia

8 Jun 2005