Thursday, February 05, 2009

New Zealand volunteers - helping Papua New Guinea for 39 years

Caption: NZAID official in the field, Bougainville.  Photo courtesy Caroline Newsom

Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), New Zealand’s international volunteering for development agency, has been sending volunteers to Papua New Guinea since 1970.

 In 1998, VSA set up a field office in Arawa to co-ordinate the programme in Bougainville, with the programme for the rest of PNG being co-ordinated from Wellington, New Zealand.

Up until 2005, PNG-based VSA volunteers worked with NGOs and government agencies in Bougainville and the mainland provinces only.

 In 2005, the first volunteer took up an assignment with the East New Britain Province’s secondary education office and since then VSA, in response to the development needs of the Island provinces, has shifted its focus and placed a number of volunteers in the New Britain provinces.

VSA recognised that to strengthen its relationship with the New Guinea Island provincial governments and communities and to assist them with their development objectives, plans and projects, that VSA needed to move closer and become part of the local community, as VSA has already done successfully in Arawa, Bougainville. 

 In December 2008, Camille Kirtlan, VSA’s programme officer for PNG, moved to Kokopo, East New Britain and is setting up the new VSA field office there. 

Currently, VSA has 11 volunteers working in Bougainville, seven in East New Britain and two in West New Britain – not to mention a number of their partners who make significant contributions of their own to local communities.

 Later in 2009, VSA plans also to work with the New Ireland provincial government and communities, to extend its relationship with the New Guinea Island provinces, and work alongside the New Guinea Island people, assisting them in their development.     



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