Caption: A motivator under Yangpela Didiman Wokabaut in Alkena, Hagen ELC-PNG district, displaying her piggery project. - Picture by JACOB SIMINGING of YANGPELA DIDIMAN
By MALUM NALU
As the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) celebrated 125 years of the Miti (Word of God) on Tuesday this week, so too did Lutheran Development Service (LDS), an ELC-PNG department whose emphasis is on sustainable livelihood of the people, especially the marginal in many rural Lutheran communities.
“LDS believes people need not just motivation, but opportunities and knowledge,” says acting LDS Secretary Bonnie Keoka.
“It embraces God’s teaching in Hosea 4:6: ‘My people are destroyed because of lack of knowledge’.
“Food security and basic necessities are the focus in the role of LDS.
“Therefore, LDS ensures in its programmes to empower people to seek, find and live in the Kingdom of God.”
Outreach programme content of LDS is classed in three areas: Yangpela Didiman (agriculture); financial literacy (managing and living within financial means); and basic infrastructure support (water supply, sanitation facilities).
“Agriculture, as the core of all LDS programmes, promotes sustainable agricultural activities and community development through Yangpela Didiman or basic agricultural projects, as well as chicken, poultry and cash cropping in cocoa,” Keoka explains.
“This programme caters for the growing population, the uncertainty of weather in climate change, and land potential to support the people’s demands.
“This programme has reached over 20,000 farmers in the last 10 years.
“It has expanded into remote areas of Kabwum, Finschhafen, and Boana in Morobe province; Rai Coast, Amele and Begesin in Madang and the highlands provinces of Western Highlands, Chimbu and Eastern Highlands, along with a savings of over K115,000 with a loan portfolio of over K60,000.
“The Yangpela Didiman or agriculture programmes are carried out through efforts of 40 staff.
“Twenty are scattered in Morobe, Eastern Highlands, and Western Highlands.
“Chimbu branch was recently closed for shortage in funding and expertise.”
Keoka said over 5, 000 people in the marginal community were enabled to access savings facilities through the financial literacy programme also in the last 10 years.
“LDS has, within the last years, witnessed a different perspective of funding rural development projects with people’s participation,” he said.
“Infrastructure was lately introduced to LDS activities because of people’s needs.
“Over 100 water supply projects in Morobe province are now accessed by over 1,000 people in rural communities for clean water and sanitation aspects.”
LDS operates out of its main office at Malahang in Lae, Morobe province, about 2km from ELC-PNG head office at Ampo.
“With a staff of 16, six are water and sanitation officers who are on ongoing travel to implement these projects,” Keoka said.
“Ten other LDS staff made up of ancillary staff and management including a department secretary as the head, technical expertise and consultants are drawn locally and assisted through funding and expertise by Lutheran Overseas Church partners of ELC-PNG in Europe, America and Australia.
“The community projects are managed and supervised from four regional bases for the Highlands in Banz and Jiwaka; Lae is out of Malahang; Madang at Amron; and FISIKA for Finschhafen, Siassi, and Kabwum areas is coordinated from Finschhafen.”
Keoka said last December, LDS began the process of restructuring and revitalising its functions to fit the demands in this changing time.
“Such changes are necessary to accommodate requirements of the church’s strategic plan in the Vision 2020 with a household focus in achieving the church’s vision in ‘revisioning, renewing and re-vitalising the church to become missional’,” he said.
“We call on prayers, support and understanding by all Lutheran members, stakeholders and partners to walk with us in this transition into another 125 years for a better and effective service to the marginal in many disadvantaged areas of our beautiful country.
“We are grateful to the financial backing in making a difference in people’s lives by our donors – EED, Bread for the World, Lutheran overseas church partners and back donors, European Union, AusAID and the PNG government.”