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Support for orphans in Papua New Guinea

Mothers' Union and their community in Port Moresby are reaching out to care for the well-being and education of vulnerable children

07 Jan 2016

Despite being at risk of dangerous flooding and mud-slides, the Six Mile district on the eastern edge of capital city, Port Moresby, PNG, has seen a rapid rise in population in recent decades, with many people living in poverty. The deprivation of the area has led to increased social tension, and Six Mile is well known for its violence and gang culture. Gangs here have been known to burn down entire villages in “turf war” battles. 

Betty Cane has lived in the community her whole life, and attends the local Anglican Church and is a member of Mothers’ Union.  While watching her community Betty became aware that there were many children around without anyone to care for them, either because they were orphaned, or because they were being looked after by a family member that couldn’t fully support them. With the support of her husband Betty decided to take some of the children in.  The news of her care spread rapidly in the community, and in a short space of time more and more children were brought to Betty to care for. 

Illiterate herself, Betty nevertheless knew what needed to be done, and she turned to her local Anglican Church for support.  Now as each looked-after child reaches school age and enters primary school the church raises funds to pay for their school uniform and their books – without which they would not be allowed to attend.  In addition the congregation each buy a little extra food at the market – an extra portion of rice, or extra vegetables which helps provide food for the children.  The work has grown, with an extension now providing space for additional orphans, and a learning centre. Forty children now benefit from the support, and teaching from Ms Stewart, a trained teacher who volunteers her services, and Mothers’ Union member, Vivian Leo cooks for the children every week.  

The Anglican diocese has also lent it support, buying uniforms for 17 of the children from the orphanage, helping the children to attend elementary and primary school.  

“This is about seeing a need, and making a response” says Betty. “I’m not educated, but I can see how important it is for children to be cared for and to have opportunities to learn. I just saw what was needed and knew in my head what needed to be done – so I did it.”