The first part of the campaign commenced on Tuesday, 9th July, in the Diocese with a peace educator media training that ran for two days.
“The purpose of the program is to educate the general public of Bougainville to know about their voting rights and to accept responsibility for the outcome of the Referendum peacefully,” said Marie Mondu, Development Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference and facilitator of the program.
“This is also a means to provide avenues for discussions and encourage locally driven messaging that will contribute towards peaceful actions and attitudes pre-and-post-referendum.”
The two-day program had two parts to it with the first on community education and information dissemination which basically focused on identifying threats and issues and on how to evangelise peace and unity. The second part focused on media training, especially on public speaking, creating posters and using the radio to advocate for peace and unity which was facilitated by the Social Communications Commission.
“The start of this campaign was very informative, and I know the participants will use this knowledge to evangelise peace,” stated William Taong, Caritas Diocesan Development Secretary of Bougainville.
Present for the training were twenty-seven representatives from the Catholic and United Churches in the region. They represented districts from Buka, Bana, Selau/Suir, Siwai and Torokina.
“I am happy with this training as it has given me more knowledge that when I go back to my village, I will use what I have learnt to advocate for peace,” stated Adelyne Kokin, Secretary of the Hahela Catholic parish youth and Bougainville Human Rights Defender.
During the final day of the training, Mondu met with Bougainville Christian Churches Council executives to revisit commitments made during a Referendum workshop in Goroka, for PNG Council of Churches and Bougainville Referendum Commission organised by United Nations Women earlier on in April.
“The Bougainville Christian Church Council (BCCC) were briefed on the Peace and Unity Campaign and were appreciative and welcomed the initiative of the Catholic Church to empower ‘Peace and Unity Educators’, who will heavily utilised media to reach out. BCCC executives proposed another meeting with local church to discuss a 6-month plan on Post Referendum,” stated Mondu.
“Basing on past experiences where their roles were critical during crisis – they would like to promote peace and unity and send a strong message to Bougainvilleans to take responsibility of the outcome of the referendum and remain peaceful and united.”
The campaign is sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Bougainville, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas PNG.
(Peace campaign participants showing the symbol of advocating for peace)