I recently attended the graduation of 52 trainees from the Treaty Village Rangers Program at an event at Mabaduan Village on the South Fly coastline, just a few kilometres from Australia’s northernmost border.
The program is a key element of the Building Resilience in Treaty Villages, Western Province PNG initiative driven by the Cairns-based Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) with support from the Australian Government. From capping wells to safe chainsaw use, improved sanitation, first aid, public speaking, water safety and basic IT, the rangers now possess valuable skills to strengthen their communities and become future trainers and leaders.
This is about building a platform for the delivery of health services as you have to have the basics in place – potable water, sanitation, food security and logistics – before you can even look dispensing medication to deal with health challenges such as TB.
It was an amazing event – we were welcomed by important community leaders, traditional dancers and a massive crowd of people.
As for the rangers themselves, it was very emotional to see the pride in their eyes and the smiles on their faces as they received their ranger caps, badges and certificates in front of their family and communities.
I can’t congratulate the RRRC and the trainers, Inloc, enough for their fabulous work on this program, together with our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop MP for contributing pilot funding through Australian Aid.