Hera is learning to be a leader in her community
Hera (pictured left), aged 15, lives in Gabagaba, a small coastal village an hour and a half south of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. For young women like Hera living in rural parts of the country, there are many obstacles to achieving a higher education including gender expectations and financial restrictions.
“I left school during year 10 due to COVID-19 so I came back home to live in the village. I couldn’t go back to school because of financial difficulties and as a big sister I wanted my younger siblings to carry on learning,” said Hera.
In her village, Hera is teaching her peers about life skills development as part of ChildFund’s Youth Peace and Protection Champion program. Through her participation in the project, she was able to find a new purpose when she couldn’t return to school.
“During my stay in the village, my little brother had joined this group and he was the one who introduced me and told me a lot about the group. I wasn’t aware of them before.”
Although she was initially hesitant about taking part, her younger brother convinced her to attend a meeting. Most of their meetings are outside, down by the water or under a tree.
“I went, first when I sat with them, they started introducing the group and so on like I have a lot of experiences.
When I first went and sat with them, I learned that we had a lot of similar experiences. I I decided to join the group and bring them into the church so we could talk to more of our peers.”
Like many other young people in her village, Hera has found it difficult to find purpose and meaning in her day-to-day life. This group is a safe place for her to share her experiences, challenges, and her hopes for the future with her peers that can relate.
“I have learn a lot from the other members. You know, as a young person I go through situations which I feel like there’s no need for me cause I’m in the village I can’t do much. Living in the village you have to provide and also do things to make your family happy and contribute.”
ChildFund Papua New Guinea, in partnership with Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) is providing young people across the country with necessary tools and skills to promote peace, resolve conflict and prevent violence and become Youth Peace and Protection Champions (YPPC).
As a YPPC, Hera has gone through extensive training on awareness of rights, respectful relationships, non-violent conflict resolution and peace building. Working alongside five other YPPC’s from her village, they have each claimed a role in the group and together they are creating an action plan to reach more young people in the community.
The group ran a peer education session with about 40 year 8 students. They drew on their training, running different energisers and brainstorming activities to encourage their peers to think about the issues they face and how to best overcome these challenges.
Now Hera, is confident in her leadership skills and abilities. She feels more excited and optimistic about her future. “I have ups and downs but through the advice and experience from this group, they help me a lot.”