Youths find voice in remote communities

Young people in remote communities of Northern Province now have a strong voice on tackling crime and creating opportunities for work and learning.

This follows the commissioning of three Local Level Youth Development Councils (LLYDC).

The three Local Level Governments (LLGs) - Popondetta Urban, Kira and Afore - successfully established their Youth Development Councils and elected their executives, who were sworn in by Senior Provincial Magistrate Leonard Mesmi.

One of them was Boroh Taraba, a young man from a remote village in Kira LLG who has long aspired to draw attention to the needs of young people in his community.

Boroh left home in Year Eight to pursue his dream of completing school in Popondetta, only to have to abandon his schooling two years later due to insufficient school fees.

He found work at local company Winge Wholesale Limited where he prospered and eventually became a team leader, supervising other workers and mentoring new recruits.

Boroh’s aspiration to be an advocate for young people deepened and after four years, he resigned  to return to his village, where he applied his organisational skills to get young people involved in community activities like church fellowship nights, fundraising events and sports competitions.

He says it is a struggle to draw attention and support to his village given its remote location.

“In my area, it’s very remote and difficult for Government services to reach us on time,” he says. “We have resources but to create opportunities for young people it’s difficult because of inaccessibility.”

In the absence of a regular police presence, law and order problems in his community have escalated. Boroh sees the creation of the Kira Local Level Youth Development Council (LLYDC), to which he has been elected Chair, as an opportunity to bring about positive change.

“My wish is to change their [youth] mindset and put them in the right direction to succeed, [and] this training and platform has opened [the] door for me to make this idea a reality,” Boroh says. “Education is important. When young people are educated they will come up with ideas to move forward in their lives and have [a] positive impact in the community.”

Another youth leader, Nehemiah Gaboe from Afore LLG, says socially disruptive activities that usually occur in towns such as gambling, drinking in public and harassment of women and girls, have already crept into the villages.

“Afore LLG has 18 wards with [a] huge population of young people. I am pleased this council is established. I see a clear path [and] I know there will be support for me to empower my youths to change,” Gaboe says.

Lenny Kova from Popondetta Urban LLG also shared similar sentiments, saying homebrew, drug trafficking from Morobe, sales of marijuana and stealing are major problems in his community, and he sees the LLYDC, to which he has been elected as Chair, as an opportunity to address these issues.

The youth leader dropped out of school in Year Nine and, under pressure from his peers, began to drink beer, use marijuana and get involved in criminal activities.

His world came crashing down when he was shot and arrested by police during a gunfight and eventually had to have his leg amputated.

“That’s when I realised there were other youth like me, who do not have a voice, and this motivated me to be the voice for them,” Lenny says.

The plan is to eventually establish Youth Development Councils in each LLG area within the Northern Province, with support from the National Youth Development Authority, the Oro Provincial Administration, the District Development Authorities and the PNG-Australia Partnership.

(Three LLGs in Northern Province have successfully commissioned their youth councils and executives)

Press release