From security guard to programs director

From a small hamlet in Guniba, Popondetta, in Northern Province, to the bustling city of Port Moresby, Christopher Usuka has proven that with hard work and perseverance, one can overcome any challenge.

When Christopher was not selected for the high school of his choice, he came to Port Moresby to look for a paid job. He took up a short computer accounting course while working his first job as a security guard, but his passion for the creative arts eventually led him to apply for Theatre Arts courses at the University of Papua New Guinea.

“Studying Theatre Arts opened up a whole new world for me,” says Christopher.

“It helped me discover my passion for social work and community development, which is what I have been doing ever since.”

He began his career in social work by volunteering for UNICEF’s social mobilisation for development program in 1997. He is now a two-term member of the National Volunteer Service of Papua New Guinea and has served as an Information Officer with the PNG Women in Politics, an active nongovernment organisation in the mid-90s, and as a Community Development Officer with Milne Bay Provincial Administration.

Christopher entered the public service in 2000 as Publication Coordinator with the National Youth Development Authority. He progressed in his career to become the Director for Programs and Extension Services, where he has been instrumental in the reactivation of the formal government youth network in Papua New Guinea, which had been inactive for about 30 years.

Christopher’s work has taken him to all Papua New Guinean provinces, and he is very familiar with different cultures, traditions, issues of governance and people throughout the country. These experiences have informed the design and implementation of the programs he currently oversees within the National Youth Development portfolio.

“Christopher's dedication to his work is second to none,” says Betty Wai, a colleague of Christopher at the National Youth Development Authority.

“He has a deep understanding of the issues facing young people in Papua New Guinea, and he works tirelessly to ensure that our programs are tailored to their needs.”

Christopher encountered instances where uninform decisions were made, leaving the youth councils dormant. Hence, he applied for a Short Course Award under the Australia Awards to study a Graduate Certificate in Governance and Public Policy Course to upskill himself to take on this challenge. He completed the course in May 2022 and has incorporated his new skills and knowledge into his workplace.

“The course has broadened my understanding on research-based work and aligning programs with partners at the local, regional and global levels. I have used this knowledge to create research instruments to get feedback on youth programs, such as the SME program, and to improve programs for youth councils and leaders.

“I am also helping to create a survey to gather information from young people across the country about their goals and opportunities. This will help improve current and future youth programs.”

Christopher has recently written a proposal for a UNICEF program on Youth Health in the MOMASE region, which includes training, awareness campaigns, and surveys to address health issues for adolescents and youth.

“We will make a detailed plan from this proposal to carry out these activities,” Christopher proudly says.

Press Release