Everyday People PNG : Russell Coomer

Part 1: My name is Russell Coomer. I am a volunteer with the National Volunteer Service of Papua New Guinea. In April this year, my 24-month contract ended. During those 24 months.

I was living and volunteering in the Usino Bundi District, Madang Province. I was based in Gama LLG.  

I am from Manus Province. I grew up here in Port Moresby because of my father’s job, he was a soldier in the Papua New Guinea Defense Force and we lived at Taurama Barracks.

I completed high school at De La Salle and went to Rabaul to complete my secondary education.

After secondary school, I came back to Port Moresby to study at the Catholic Theological Institution at Bomana. I completed studies and got my papers there.

At some point, I was trying to become a priest. I studied for six years. However, I needed to take a year out and think about my vocation.

It was during this time that I found a job with World Vision and worked there for 5 years in projects dealing with women and children’s rights such as issues of gender-based violence.

My experiences in working with World Vision and other similar projects drove me to apply for the National Volunteer Service, when I saw the call for applications in the newspaper.

My acts of service consisted of me doing a lot of awareness programs and training. I was teaching life skills to the community, especially young men who found themselves unable to complete formal education in the system. We worked on building their capacity through trainings on project proposals and project management.

We worked on helping them to identify resources in the village that they could work on and turn into projects. Some of these projects included fish ponds and fish farming. Ideas like get them thinking about how they can seek funding to create something.

So far, five people who were participants of those trainings have jobs in Madang now. They are happy now and doing some changes to their lives. It gives value to their lives. Before they were in the village and doing village work, go lo wara, kam bek, go lo garden. They are hardworking people that needed a bit of direction in life.

Marysilla Kellerton