When Vennyah Begasi entered City Mission, he started working in the vegetable fields. He liked the physical work outside. “I realised that the things I can do here are better than the life I had before.”

City Mission is a non-profit organisation in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. Together with SA4D, they provide young people with new opportunities, through vocational and entrepreneurial training. Almost 20 percent of this Pacific island state’s population is aged between 15 and 24. Over 80,000 young people join the labor force every year, most of them with little to no education or professional experience. Their chances of finding a permanent and formal job 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.

Practice-oriented vocational training

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 during the programme, including vocational training in areas such as carpentry, plumbing or car-mechanics amongst others. Thereby increasing their chances of finding a decent job. The courses are practice-oriented and open to young people who have not finished school. To deal with the lack of job opportunities, the young people also have the possibility to acquire basic business knowledge as an additional module. They learn to develop their own business ideas and can apply for start-up funding. The business knolwedge course is also open to women living in the City Mission women’s refuge.

Childhood dream of becoming a mechanic

Vennyah used to live in the countryside and ran a small market stall. But a cycle of drugs and violence changed everything. “The drugs controlled me and I was involved in robberies.” He heard about “Standing on My Own Feet” from two older people. Vennyah didn’t hesitate long. He has since come off drugs. “I am still tempted, but I am working on it,” he explains. He is looking forward to starting his training phase soon. “When I was little, I always wanted to be a mechanic. My aim is to learn the trade and to move back to my village.”