Working at the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research over the past nine months, Monika has created and led training courses for Papua New Guinean staff to help them implement projects to combat communicable diseases and improve maternal and child in PNG.
‘I developed and ran a two-day project management training course for staff, assisted with drafting their safety and security management plan, as well as their policies and procedures and procurement processes,’ Miss Vnuk said.
‘Next year, I plan to set up a seminar series to target project managers, including mentoring staff, resourcing projects, evaluations, project reporting and leadership skills.’
While in PNG, Monika spent time in several communities including Madang, Maprik, and the remote town of Goroka where she continued her work in running training courses to help give local Papua New Guineans the skills to set up a broad range of projects including health projects to combat sexually transmissible infections, HIV, and malaria, as well as improve maternal and child health.
‘The people really make PNG—they are lovely and welcoming, especially the women and the gorgeous children.’
‘Every placement has its ups and downs but on the whole it has been an amazing experience—I’ve learnt so much, not only about PNG, but about myself as well.’
The Australian Government has supported an estimated 15,000 Australians as volunteers in developing countries as part of its overseas aid program since the 1960s. In 2011–12, more than 1,500 Australians spent some or all of the year in a developing country to make a difference to the lives of people living in poverty, and to make the world a better place.
Ten years ago, there were around 715 volunteers deployed overseas in a single year. This year we have seen around 1,585 Australians in active volunteer engagement, from Tonga to Mongolia, Ghana to Vietnam, the Philippines to Lebanon, and beyond.
Around 1,000 Australian volunteers will take up new assignments this financial year in almost 40 countries as part of the Government’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program.
And when she speaks about her experience, Monika said, ‘I know I can make changes for individuals, and that is really satisfying.’