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  • Nigel Akuani

Kerema Undergoes COVID-19 Awareness

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

Port Moresby: Selected Catholic Mission schools and parishes surrounding Kerema Town in the Gulf Province have undergone an assessment and awareness program to determine the level of literacy in regard to COVID-19 and the severeness of food security in the region.

The three-day monitoring and evaluation program held from Saturday 30th January to Monday 1st February 2021, was sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and facilitated by Officers of Caritas Australia, with the assistance of staff from the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNGSI.

Representing Caritas Australia were Charlotte Vada, Disaster Risk Management Coordinator; Robin Lesley, Protection Coordinator; and Ea Tobi, Accompaniment Coordinator. CBCPNGSI personnel included Michael Ova, Chairman of NCEC and National Catholic Education Secretary; Fiona Wenama, Assistant National Catholic Education Secretary; and Nigel Akuani, Social Communications Media Officer.

The team of six split into two groups to conduct COVID-19 Awareness’s and Food Security Assessments, in Kavava Primary School, Lese Oalai Primary School, Don Bosco Araimiri Technical Secondary School. Communities also visited by the team were Mamuro, Popo Kaisava St James Parish, Popo Kapore Blessed Peter ToRot Parish, Terapo Station, and Opao Houpoe.

Ms Vada emphasised the research’s importance and explained that it was a key method to helping communities strengthen their defence against the effects of natural disasters. "Finding out information about the needs of the communities from the people themselves is important in ensuring that we carry out meaningful and sustainable activities which build resilience to disasters and promote food security," she said.

Describing the awareness as critical and relevant, Mr Ova said many in the country’s rural regions were still not fully aware of the virus’s symptoms and the global impact it has caused. “You can see from their request that they want more awareness to be done, and we will have to find more funding from our Commission and the different humanitarian organisations to conduct awareness’s through close collaboration with teachers,” he stated.

Heny Ori, Chairman of St Anne Primary School in Oru village of Ihu District, made a stern call for government health authorities to focus more of COVID-19 spending on its communities situated in remote areas. “If the virus came here, I think my entire community would have been wiped out because we do not know anything about it. This awareness is a first of its kind because it is the first time we are hearing of this virus and the safety measures everyone should always take,” he said.

A briefing of their findings was given by the team to Bishop of Kerema, Peter Baquero Jnr SDB. Bp Baquero expressed his gratitude to the team from both organisations for conducting the research and highlighted how it was an essential way of identifying key needs particularly in the health sector to better enable safer practices among society.

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