City Mission is a non-profit organisation in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. Together with SA4D, provide young people with new opportunities through vocational and entrepreneurial training. In an interview with SA4D project officer Giovanna Del Drago, Peter Moody, City Mission’s farm manager in Port Moresby, tells us what has been achieved since the project’s inception.
Almost 20 percent of the Pacific island state’s population is aged between 15 and 24. Over 80,000 young people join the labour force every year, most of them with little to no education or professional experience. Their chances of finding a secure job in formal employment are extremely low. This results in high poverty rates and a constant struggle for survival, which is a breeding ground for drug abuse, crime and violence.
SA4D and City Mission’s project “Standing on My Own Feet” aims to support young people from particularly difficult backgrounds. They acquire a number of skills through vocational training during the programme, including in areas such as carpentry, plumbing and car mechanics, and they also receive entrepreneurship training. This increases their chances of finding a decent job or starting their own small business. The courses are practice-oriented and open to young people who have not finished school.
GIOVANNA DEL DRAGO: WHEN DID YOU START TO WORK AT CITY MISSION?
Peter Moody: I started working here in March 2016, responding to a request for assistance via a friend.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE A FARM MANAGER? WHAT IS YOUR JOB LIKE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS?
Busy (laughs). There are lots of different areas to manage and keep track of. There is always so much happening: building projects on the farm, literacy programmes that develop, the primary school growing. We’re now hoping to open the malolo print shop again [note from the editor: malolo printing is a technique used to print on t-shirts]. There’s the agriculture and livestock to supervise, and the vocational training workshop. We’re always developing and growing, and my task is to supervise all this.
HOW MANY STAFF MEMBERS DO YOU HAVE UNDER YOUR SUPERVISION?
I manage 35 staff members in total, in all the different areas of our farm. This includes vocational training trainers, literacy teachers, agriculture and livestock supervisors, coffee shop and farm maintenance supervisors, case workers, primary school teachers and admin staff.
AND HOW MANY PEOPLE LIVE ON THE FARM?
We have 164 male trainees in addition to the staff and their families so a total of 250 people permanently live here, plus all the animals. During the day we have an additional 180 children from different communities in the area who attend the primary school.
HOW IS THE VOCATIONAL TRAINING BENEFICIAL TO THE YOUNG MEN AFTER THEY COMPLETE THE “NEW LIFE SKILLS TRAINING CENTRE – NLSTC” PROGRAMME?
Because of Port Moresby city’s rapid growth rate, vocational training for certain trades is in high demand. So including this training gives them basic skills and knowledge and sets them up to enter the construction sector or at least gives them the mindset of what it takes to be successful. It completes the NLSTC programme, providing them with skills for possible employment and therefore supporting the young men in their rehabilitation.
AS PART OF THE “STANDING ON MY OWN FEET” PROJECT, A NEW VOCATIONAL TRAINING WORKSHOP WAS BUILT. HOW IS THIS NEW BUILDING AN IMPROVEMENT FOR THE TRAINING PROGRAMME YOU OFFER HERE?
The new workshop is the highlight of our current vocational training programme as it allows us to have enough space to organise our programmes and our operations. Thanks to the workshop, we were able to introduce new processes in tools usage and storing materials, with the storage room and sign in and out process, we were able to improve care and maintenance of the workshop, which is aligned with the general practices of companies. There is now more working space and a more comfortable environment to work in, brighter, airier. And having new equipment allows us to increase our output and do broader education on different tool usage and equipment processes.
WHAT ABOUT THE VOCATIONAL CURRICULA SA4D AND CITY MISSION JOINTLY DEVELOPED?
The curricula are fantastic. They give the staff a basis for their teaching, which they never had before. They have challenged the staff in their teaching methods and how they deliver their education.
YOU PERSONALLY WORKED ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE CURRICULA. HOW DID YOU PROCEED?
Starting from scratch allowed us to base ourselves on national curricula but at the same time be very aware of what City Mission can deliver, making sure it was consistent with our abilities and especially with the ability of the boys. It is crucial to have these curricula.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE SPORT AND PLAY-BASED TEACHING METHODS SAD INTRODUCED IN THE TRAININGS?
This kind of interactive teaching opens up new ideas for the staff, giving them new opportunities they might not have had or considered before. And depending on their interest and motivation, they can develop new ways to teach the trainees that are adapted in a better way. It has opened their eyes to different forms of teaching that are rather uncommon here in Papua New Guinea I’d say.
THE PROJECT IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS BASED ON TWO BRANCHES: ON VOCATIONAL TRAINING IN THE WORKSHOP AND ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING. THE ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRAINING HAS BEEN RUNNING FOR A YEAR. PETER, HOW DOES THIS ADDITIONAL COURSE PROVIDE FURTHER SUPPORT TO THESE YOUNG MEN AND HOW DOES IT FIT INTO YOUR ALREADY EXISTING PROGRAMME?
It was a completely new idea to us. And it’s taken a while to take off and still will take time to develop, but I think it is very valuable to the trainees, in particular to those who have a good education. It opens new doors and opportunities for some of them that they hadn’t had before. It empowers the trainees to work on their own ideas from the start and opens their eyes to their own potential. The fact that they can develop a business plan from A to Z and figure out how their idea can be profitable is probably something they had never considered for themselves. It makes them realise their own potential.