New Beginnings, Joe Mitakaiva

Joe Mitakaiva is a young man whose origins lay in Karama, Malalaua in the Gulf Province. Born at the Port Moresby General Hospital and later brought up in KC settlement in Port Moresby.

Joe says he did not realize the significance of staying in school during his younger years. Now enrolled at City Mission PNG’s Port Moresby campus, Joe is taking back his life by applying himself in the mission’s 14-week Life Skills Training Centre program for young men like Joe.

The centre teaches them basic life skills, instilling boundaries, discipline, respect and Christian principles, and helping them find employment afterwards.  

Joe first heard about CMPNG’s life skills program through a young man in the community, who had also been through the program. Joe said the stories he heard peaked his interest. He found out that CMPNG’s head office was in Koki, Port Moresby and took a trip to check it out. To his surprise, found a group of other young men wanting to find out more about the program to enroll.

Joe enrolled in the Life Skills program in 2020. However, enrolling was only the first step towards a new journey Joe was stepping into. In 2021, he entered into the third phase of the program.

A step short of completion, Joe was asked to leave the program by the leaders to battle his personal demons as he was challenged to let go of his bad habits and what he knew as the norm to make room for the new life he was being introduced to.

Years of influence, bad habits and misguided decision-making caused Joe to go astray. He was not used to hard manual work, gardening, tending to livestock, or taking part in school organized activities for long periods. However, after three weeks away from the program, Joe made the decision to come back and start over, with a renewed sense of purpose.

Joe says he never wants to go back to the life he lived before. He values the discipline enforced by CMPNG and the advice they impart into the young men.

He expressed that before the program, he was a difficult person to be around. He would not listen to family members or community leaders. He said it was quite difficult for him to be understanding towards other people.

Joe realized once he was part of the program that he could not keep living the life he was so used to, and change was needed. He enjoys the work as part of the training program. Gardening and working on the farm, looking after livestock keeps him busy and on his toes.

Joe’s efforts towards his work has not gone unnoticed by his leaders in the program. He is now in the final phase of the program and is assigned to lead others in the program. He leads other boys to work in the gardens.

Joe says his long term plan is to start a business. However, his short-term plans on completing the program is to work a small piece of land to build his own garden.

He expressed that the 14-week training has opened up his eyes to many options that he can venture into to start making a living for himself and his family, because not only has he worked in the garden.

Joe has also been able to work in the kitchen, tending to livestock, maintenance and other vocational sections of the training program.

Joe said enthusiastically that he is looking forward to tackling his bigger goals, but is going to start small by utilizing the skills and training imparted through the City Mission Life Skills Training Centre.

Marysila Kellerton