Catholic Safe House Association Launched

Magdalene suffered domestic violence for years until she could not take it anymore and fled from her husband taking her children with her.

She had a choice between locking up her husband at the police station and seeking help from the Safe House. She chose the latter and the help she received was life transforming.

Magdalene gave her testimony together with her husband on the day of launching the Catholic Safe House Association in Madang recently.  

Catholic Safe Houses Association is a ministry of the church that formalized the age-old charitable deeds of the Catholic Church including providing safe haven for survivors of violence in PNG.

“Our Parish house, our priest house has become safe house for centuries already; our convents have become safe house for centuries already. Our stations have become sanctuary for safe and protection of people who are vulnerable, who have been victim of violence of abuse for many years already,” said Archbishop Anton Bal.

Catholic Safe House Association President, Sister Thecla Duadak, told of how the Catholic Safe houses journeyed to see this day. They are recognized by the church hierarchy as a mission under the Family Life Secretariat with six safe houses set up, and were present during the launching.   “There were many challenges in this journey of life in terms of funding assistance, their own safety and protection, capacity building and more, but no recognition in this life risky mission in some many good years. These many challenges have been our stepping-stone.

“To look with better future and hope and as faith base organization, we believe God has been journeying with us and brought us thus far,” Sr. Thecla said.

Through the dedication of church workers especially the nuns, many lives like that of Frank Duadak have been changed.

He was a perpetrator of Domestic Violence but through the work of the safe house by the Nuns. He changed his life when his wife sought refuge from them, instead of taking him to the police. His wife Magdalene retold the story of how he used to beat her up and knock her out of consciousness.

“Wanpla taim em brukim het blong mi wantaim ain. Em brukim het blong mi mi hat indai, ol wasim mi wantaim wara, mi kirap mi go long ples blong mi long Malmal.  “Na ol tokim mi olsem yu go long seif haus tasol bai yu senisim man blong yu. (One time he hit my head and I was unconscious until they threw water on me and I regained my consciousness. When I came to, I took my children and fled to my village of Malmal),” said Magdalene.

In appreciation of the change in him, Frank Duadak gave a piglet taken from his piggery to Sister Thecla and the Safe House at Sek.  He extended his gratitude to the Catholic Church for their continuous through the Safe House in changing the lives of families.  After he changed his life, together with his wife, they started a piggery and he started supplying piglets as gifts to other people. He also gave one to the nun who is the coordinator of the Safe House at Sek.

“Mi sa advocate, helpim ol yangpla manmeri long ples, toktok long ol olsem pasin yumi ol man yumi sa mekim em ino gutpla. Ol meri em ol patna blong yumi na taim yumi sa paitim ol, ol meri sa painim hat long retaliate. I advocate helping young men and women in the village, telling them that the actions of men are not acceptable. The women are our partners and when we beat them up, they never retaliate.)” Duadak said.

According to Caritas Australia Country Director, Roslyn Kuniata, DFAT had supported the safe house program of protecting lives for over 17 years, through the church ministry. 

Kuniata believes that domestic violence is a family matter and so not only the woman or wife gets assistance, fathers and children are very much in the picture.

Frieda Kana