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08 June 2014


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Albert - A great contribution to a group of people who are usually labelled as the future leaders of this country.

My general feedback follow below:

Words are very powerful. We are using them to create our realities.

I think you want to think carefully about some of the words and phrases in the opening sentences of your article. They are generalizations like we always hear before. And as long as the next person is generalizing, regardless of how passionate he or she is about the youth problem in this country, we are going to go around in circles until the crow come to roost, and we find that we have not solved anything.

We are the masters of our destiny. No one chooses it for us.
But sometimes the trouble is we do not know ourselves enough so that we are unable to ascertain who is making the decisions for us.

So that the troubles associated with youths of today in PNG is a sign of confusion about self, and an uncertainty about their abilities to shape their own future.

Many young people have observed others do stuff and they try to emulate them – whether the actions are good or bad. They want to dress like them, talk like them, eat like them and relate to other people the way they observe others do.

That is sad because now it is others doing the thinking and taking actions for them. That is a major problem to begin with before we even talk about the general problems of society that often youths are not responsible for - but of course we blame them.

An enlightened human being is one who knows himself or herself well and understands the consequences of his or her decisions. He or she must be willing to face the consequences, either good or bad.

The problems of the youths in this country cannot be simplified or put in the hard basket of the plethora of problems we are facing. And that the solutions must be varied and many.

We must and can start from whenever we are to help. We do not need a program or project approach to do that all the time. And we cannot wait for government or donors to come to our aid first.

Small encouragements, a bit of practical advice here and there, pointing someone in the right direction, helping with sports in a community, or employment in another; disseminating information on sexual and reproductive health etc. We can all help.

I think that one of the greatest contributions we can make to making a dent in the youth problem is building the self-esteem and sense of self-worth of young people wherever they are found in this beautiful country. Any effort that can contribute to that should be supported and will be wonderful.

Talking about the problems first then the resources to address them are not innovative and creative enough – I am borrowing from Martyn Namarong here.

My last point is that the youth problem must be addressed at many levels and by many people and entities.

Gilbert told them there are only two kinds of attitudes, a 100% positive attitude or a 100% negative attitude, and our character is build around this. Attitude is made up of letters of the alphabet as positioned, a-1, t-20, t-20, i-9, t-20, u-21, d-4 & e-5...add!

Gilbert just thanked me for telling you about what he is doing. He also commented - "Yes we have social issues and it is here to stay, it is part of society...we can only minimize or control and I guess one way of doing this is building barriers, try not to let these young people grow into bad attitudes...
almost all are settlement kids from Mongniol dump, to Meni, to Kreer and Chambri camp to Kreer School and CommWorks and Brandi and primary and elementary kids.

Up in Wewak at the moment there is a fellow called Gilbert Sarry who is running a club for these young people that you speak of, many from the squatter settlements of Wewak. Here is what he was doing at the weekend....

This morning my wife and I with a couple of helping hands ran a road and track run time trials for our kids...the bigger kids age 12 to 18 ran a 6.5km with the first runner home at 26.35 sec and the first female home at 35.50 sec, while the little kids age 9 to 11 we had them on track for a 3km, or 3000m where a 11yr old came in at 12.36sec. We had a total of 97 kids, 23 girls and 74 boys.

He is training them for the triathlon, which includes swimming and running, and plans to have a marathon relay in the holidays.

A few weekends ago he had them busy cleaning up the town beaches collecting piles of rubbish. No doubt they will do it again before the PM for Japan visits them later in the month.

It sounds like his own version of the Scouts and Guides. He may not do everything they do but he is teaching them a lot of things, discipline, respect for their town and their bodies. He will be keeping an eye on their health. He is giving them enjoyment. They will come to know what team spirit means.

He offers good healthy weekend activities for kids who could easily get into trouble if they had nothing to do, well supervised by himself and his wife.

He has been putting photos of what he is doing on the marvellous Sepik Region Development Discussion Forum on Facebook and many people are now offering to help him. I'll keep you posted.

I correct myself on my comment: Alfred's has stated quite clearly the need for collaboration, except to collaborate on what? Unemployment, youth violence, sex, drugs and alcoholism, cult behaviour, there is a long list of 'wrongs'.

The heap of problems needs to be broken up then put back together in the best way that we can deal with them.

We have to stop thinking that we can solve development problems permanently. Every manager knows that success is mostly a matter of tacking active measures against things that will always go wrong.

I think that 'problem' is called life.

We mostly like to make decisions in life that will cause the least grief and provide the most benefit. A plan may not work out to perfection, but it should be perfectly executed, i.e. we should each do our bit.

Afred's allusion to 'free moral agent' also infers the challenging thought that 'you need Jesus' may not be the right comment to make to a person who is looking for a job.

Hopefully, if there is such a thing as a national consultation and debate, people will go there with solid suggestions with the aim of moving forward, rather than betting the future of our nation on 'a wing and a prayer'.

Alfred - I find that you have made an eloquent expression a a vital development agenda that PNG must address.

However, by stopping at a very general allusion to strategic plans for youth and social development you may have missed the mark in bringing home a few ground truths.

Your call for various groups to collaborate was inferred, but not stated plainly, as it rightfully should have been.

In fact, that would have been a key argument to raise, since independent organisations are merely dividing their efforts, whereas true social change requires a united front.

In addition there is a contradiction in your example of Christian faith and citizens as 'free moral agent' which, I felt, needed a more solid grounding.

(Indeed, having so many competing denominations and smaller church groups, it seems like even the churches are gathering sheep into their own separate flocks.)

Perhaps a few exaples of youth and social problems and a look at what social policy exists, e.g. Dame Kidu's Youth Development policy, HIV/AIDS policy and youth employment policy may have guided you discussion to real-world examples that would have made this essay more of a blistering opinion piece of a real development challenge and less of a philosophical debate about what is going wrong.

Otherwise, I really appreciate your essay on this important agenda which is conveniently overlooked in the face of seemingly 'more important' economic agenda.

We say the youth are the future of PNG, but what are we doing to ensure their success?

An important role that needs to be played, at social and political level, and which appears absent since Dame Carol Kidu stepped down, is one of championing youth agenda.

Your essay provides support for that role to be filled.

Probably need a national consultation/debate/convention...

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