The ceremony was held in Kepakanda village in Kompiam District on 29 September, and was facilitated by the Salvation Army as part of its Restorative Justice program. Through the program, the Salvation Army have been working with people from the two tribes for peace negotiations and bible teaching to elicit social change, peace and stability.
During the ceremony, two guns from each tribal leader were surrendered to the Salvation Army to symbolise the peace agreement signing and to signifying hopes for a better future.
In accepting the guns, Salvation Army Territorial Commander Colonel Kelvin Alley thanked tribal leaders and the churches for collaborating and taking a strong stand to build a safer, secure community.
“It’s important to teach our children that our past does not have to define our future - that men and women working together shape your community for the better,” said Colonel Kelvin.
"By surrendering your guns, you are securing a future for yourselves - a future that God intended for all."
The Salvation Army is among seven other mainline churches in Papua New Guinea that work together with funding from the Papua New Guinea – Australia Partnership to improve their organisational capacity, deliver basic health and education services, with current focus on five key areas – gender equality and social inclusion, peace and prosperity, disaster risk reduction, health and education.
Lakeam Mul from the Puikin tribe lost her husband during a tribal fight in 2009 and had to raise five children on her own.
“Life was very hard, we lived in fear but despite that this was my home. I cried during the ceremony, not just for the husband I lost but for the future we are building for our grandchildren,” she said.
With her two grandchildren by her side, Lakeam is happy they will grow up in a peaceful village with access to education and other basic services.
During the ceremony, Lakeam’s son, Nik, represented their tribe and presented a homemade rifle to the Salvation Army and publicly affirmed the people’s desire to end the fighting and work towards a peaceful existence.
(The signing of a peace agreement during the ceremony)