Geographic and Social Reference
the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is an Oceanian country that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby.
At the national level, after being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975. This followed nearly 60 years of Australian administration, which started during World War I. It became an independent Commonwealth realm in 1975 with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. It is also one of the most rural, as only 18 per cent of its people live in urban centres. There are 852 known languages in the country, of which 12 now have no known living speakers. Most of the population of more than 7 million people lives in customary communities, which are as diverse as the languages. The country is one of the world’s least explored, culturally and geographically. It is known to have numerous groups of uncontacted peoples, and researchers believe there are many undiscovered species of plants and animals in the interior.
Most of the people still live in strong traditional social groups based on farming. Their social lives combine traditional religion with modern practices, including primary education. These societies and clans are explicitly acknowledged by the Papua New Guinea Constitution, which expresses the wish for “traditional villages and communities to remain as viable units of Papua New Guinean society” and protects their continuing importance to local and national community life.
Women are still discriminated, often uneducated and victim of violence and abuses.
As what we have seen through our experience, they are not aware of their rights, the power of traditional beliefs and cultural rights is still strong. Use of alcohol and drugs is widespread and violence in strong, particularly during night.
The Mission in Bereina
Our mission is situated in Bereina in the Kairuku Hiri district and Bereina Station is supposed to assist people coming from the nearby villages.
In the compound which we are developing through some projects there are: the Bishop and Vicar’s residences; the Chancery with the offices for Education, Health, Caritas and the Archive of the Diocese; the accommodations for the Diocese’s Administrator, the Secretary of Education and Health and some workers; our Convent; an accommodation for the boys who are helping us and a room for our volunteers. In the compound there are also a newly opened shelter for girls, a bakery, an Elementary School and a FODE center (flexible, open, distant education for adults).
People live in villages around Bereina Station and the majority of them are subsistence farmers. Some people work at the health center, at the police station or in the two Chinese shops present at the station.
We are not able to estimate the number of people living in the area. In our school, we have 150 students and the Primary school close to us has, more or less, 400 students.