An entry in The Crocodile prize
PNG Chamber of Mines & Petroleum
Award for Essays & Journalism
RIVO village is about a 20 minute bus ride from Madang town. It is populated by about 3,000 people and our Community Development & Practice course at Divine Word University required us to visit Rivo to find out what the people really valued most in their lives.
In seeking answers to this question, we interviewed people in about 50-60 houses and very quickly we discovered that researchers, interviewers, students and government officials have been going there for years but nothing has been done.
“We are tired of answering questions from interviewers because we tell them the same things yet we wait and wait but nothing has been changed or done,” said one young mother.
I felt ashamed about this when she said they will be soon closing their doors on researchers because they are sick and tired of people wasting their time.
With this in mind, our lecturer is working on a report for the village to see what we can bring back to them so at least our interview was productive.
Rivo village is near Madang yet it has just one aid post for its 3,000 people, and only one doctor. There is no good water supply. Holes are dug near houses by each family and the well water does not look hygienic.
Sometimes pigs and other animals are to be found in the water around the wells, especially those which lack a good tank or lid, although some wells are surrounded with high raised cement.
The Rivo village councillor told us there are projected improvements to the water supply. That is good news for the community but the question is “when?” Our research showed that water is the most needed service in this community.
“Apart from everything else, we need a water supply because two tanks are not enough for the whole community,” a young man told me. “We run short of water for drinking when it takes longer to rain.”
I was surprised to hear that sea is the only source of the villagers’ income but since RD Tuna has been established, the community believes the catch is decreasing and that soon there will not be enough to fish to sell.
“We have been raising our concerns about the company removing our fish in large numbers which made our lives harder to find fish to source our income,” said one of our guides. “Even the oil from the ships and the waste from the factory have been polluting our seas and reefs.”
It is sad to hear these kinds of stories at the same time as you are standing in an area where development is a stranger.
We learned many things during this excursion by interviewing, observing and feeling how these people in Rivo live their daily lives.
As I compared these people’s lives with my own community in Bougainville, I observed that the people here were waiting for the government to deliver services rather than working hard to develop services themselves.
After interviewing the Rivo villagers, we got into two boats and motored to an island village nearby where we did some more interviews, took photos and walked around the island It was a good excursion and learned a lot about community development, people and service development.
I would like to leave you with what I believe is the point where a true community begins.
True community development begins in each one of us. We can change our communities by changing ourselves, our families, our communities and the nation as a whole.
“It is not about what we know, it is about what we can do with what we know” is a quote I like.
Everything begins from within, there is no need to wait for government or outside elements to always bring development.
It is better that we start and maybe then those outside elements can help us.