‘Protect our children, Save Our Simbu, A Child Safe PNG’
Mingende, Simbu Province: A three-day Child Protection Workshop was held at Mingende Pastoral Center in the Catholic Diocese of Kundiawa from 30th May-1st June 2022. The theme of the training was “Protect Our Children. Save Our Simbu, A Child Safe PNG.”
A total of 40 Religious Instruction teachers, Early Childhood Development teachers and Sunday school teachers attended the workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to reach out to many people at the grass root level with awareness on child protection. The 40 participants who attended the workshop represented the 18 parishes coming together from the four deaneries of the diocese.
The participants were privileged to have the Simbu Provincial Principal Advisor of Child and Family Services Ms. Katrina Aiwa, who went through the Lukautim Pikinini Act [LPA] 2015 and explained the laws that protect the children from abuses. Copies of the LPA were distributed among members of the deaneries to be used for studying and greater awareness. The sessions also included Juvenile Justice Act, Family Protection Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child adopted under the PNG National Child Protection Policy.
Sr. Ancy John SCSA, CBC, Director of the Right Relationships Ministry and Child Protection, talked to the participants about the Child Protection Policy of the Catholic Church in PNGSI and love of parents towards the children. She emphasized that parents are the first teachers and first catechists to their children in forming them about Faith and Values in life.
“Children learn from their parents. Children have not only their rights but also their responsibilities towards their rights. They should be listened to, and the decisions should be in the best interest of the child”, she said.
In a research paper presented by the Child Protection office in Kundiawa, it was found that children were grossly abused in Campaign Houses during the election periods in Simbu. In the paper on National Elections and Child Protection, there were reports of child labor, child marriages and use of illicit drugs and prostitutions. Participants duly shared their experiences and added that there is a new trend where the use of mobile phones by young people also contributed to child abuse.
Participants were divided into deanery groups to critically answer questions asked about what is happening to our children today. Why it is happening and how we can help. After the group discussions and sharing participants promised to do more awareness at the parish level and more so on the LPA 2015.
Children and young ones, able or disable are vulnerable people who need to be well taken care of during disaster periods. Ms. Judy Gelua of the CARITAS office in her topic Child Protection in Disaster and Emergencies told the participants to identify different disasters and have Risk and Care plan in place for the children in the event of a disaster both natural and manmade. “It is vital that in an event of a disaster one must have telephone numbers of police and ambulance ready at all times.”
Fr. John Bike, in his sermon during the closing Eucharistic celebration said, “You can find God in the children. Children are born perfect despite the stain of original sin they are very clean in their innocent minds and hearts. Their ‘Memory Card ‘is clean and empty. That is why Jesus said that unless you become like little children you will not enter the kingdom of God.”
The mass ended with a solemn blessing and participants departed for their homes.
The training was organized by the Child Protection office of the diocese of Kundiawa.