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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Students learn to serve others

Mission group members are agents of change for their peers, families and communities


(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Technical Institute’s mission group in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, provides opportunities for students to serve together using their talents and sometimes meager resources to help others in need. They are agents of change for their peers, families and communities.

The mission group was started in 2018 by Rica Lavilla, who first came to Papua New Guinea as a volunteer under the Salesian Lay Volunteer Program. Today, she is a full-time educator at the Don Bosco Technical Institute in her eighth year of teaching.

Regarding the start of the mission group, Lavilla said, “Being young is not that easy, especially in today’s world. Young people are faced with a myriad of challenges. They are confronted with so many questions which can make life baffling and not that easy to handle. On the other hand, the youth are the future of our families, communities, the country and the world. Hence, we need to empower them to be agents of transformation not only for tomorrow but more importantly, today.”

One project of the group is the “Walking Kettle Project” which brings together mission group members at 7 a.m. once or twice a week to prepare hot tea and scones for others. Walking around the Parents, Citizens, and Teachers Association park, they pour tea and provide scones for those students who have arrived early to school. They also offer love and kindness.

“Hot tea and scones are being offered for free to students who come very early to school,” explained Lavilla. “Most of these students are the ones living far and have to walk for long distances in order to catch the bus and beat the traffic jam which is why they would leave their places as early as 5 a.m. without having breakfast.”

The mission group has also provided prison outreach, which took place in June 2022 at Bomana Prison. The group engaged the whole school community by asking for donations of bath soaps, laundry soaps, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste. The school responded positively and several cartons of these goods were brought to the inmates.

One of the youth who participated explained their experience. “Before entering the gate, we were asked by the warden to stand in line and to count aloud from the first person to the last. As we entered the gate, it felt dreadful for me because people were staring at us. While seated, one of the inmates called us to go and shake hands with them. I felt happy and believe that they felt the love and hope we brought with our visit. This is one experience that will go deep down in my heart. I was crying not because of sadness but because of joy, knowing that we brought hope in their life.”

Lavilla added, “When young people are given opportunities to serve, to have meaningful experiences, and to grow in their relationships with God, others, and themselves, they can be empowered agents of transformation in today’s human family.”

Salesian missionaries in the country provide primary and secondary education as well as technical skills training to prepare youth for the workforce. Missionaries also help to ensure that basic needs like shelter, food and water are met so students are able to focus on their studies.

Papua New Guinea has a population of approximately 7.5 million people. It is a resource-rich country with oil, gas and gold reserves as well as fertile land capable of producing high crop yields. Despite this, an estimated 40% of Papua New Guineans live below the poverty line of $1.25 per day, according to the World Bank.

Close to 50% of adults are illiterate and 25% of children are unable to attend school in Papua New Guinea. Part of the problem with getting to school, work and hospitals has to do with the country’s infrastructure. In rural areas, where nearly 88% of the population resides, there are few roads or means of transportation to get to schools or places of employment.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Papua New Guinea – Mission Possible: being agents of change

Don Bosco Technical Institute

Don Bosco Technical Institute Facebook

Salesian Missions – Papua New Guinea

World Bank – Papua New Guinea Poverty

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