Femili PNG aims to have a national impact by working in partnerships with local civil society organizations (CSOs) in advocating for improved services and by educating men, women and children that FSV is not acceptable and must be addressed. For three years, Femili PNG has been working in partnership with Kirapim Sauten Hailens Association Inc (KSHA), together several trainings and community awareness were organized and conducted. During the recent monitoring and mentoring trip, Femili PNG’s CEO, the Training Coordinator, Fleet Manager and Communications Manager visited KSHA in Imbonggu district, Southern Highlands Province (SHP) and met with KSHA Program Manager, Mr Tony Kanoli.
Tony is originally from Imbongu district, it is along the beautiful mountain range of Mount Ialibu and Giluwe in SHP. During a chat with Tony, he shared some of his life journey with the Femii PNG team. “My life was not easy, I went through many difficulties. I am a Grade 10 school dropout. Because of this, it is hard for me to find a job and I ended up working with a local CSO to sustain my very basic needs. However, I never give up, I face every challenge that life throws at me. I learnt to make use of every opportunity that was given to me; to learn new things, to improve myself and to become who I am today. Now, I am happy that I am able to bring various services not only to my own community but to other districts and the province as a whole.”
According to Tony, his career started when the PNG Community Development Scheme (CDS) was established in 2004 under the AusAID Program. The PNG CDS engaged Tony as Field Officer for Ialibu Core in the eastern part of SHP, and he was attached with the Core Group for some years. He then continued his journey with CDS, Democratic Governance Program (DGP) Strongim Pipol, Strongim Neisen Program (SPSN), various AusAID programs, and EU Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (RWSSP) for almost 18 years. Despite being a Grade 10 drop out, these opportunities enabled him to learn about writing/designing proposals, report writing and evaluation, project and financial management, planning and implementation of activities. These skills helped him through; he looks for potential donors and writes funding proposal to serve local people in the district through implementing various community initiatives. He has delivered projects successfully in many different sectors.
After 15 years of working with donor agencies, Tony moved to KSHA and held number of positions from Field Worker/Officer to Project Coordinator and finally as the Program Manager. KSHA was known as Mendi Core Group in Southern Highlands under the PNG CDS. When CDS was phased out in 2007, the name was changed. KSHA’s goal is to “support and improve quality of lives of people in the rural communities.” It aims to advocate for affordable and accessible primary health care, children access to basic education, agriculture and natural resources development, capacity and skills training, to participate to income generating activities/SMEs and access to law and justice services.
Tony finds working with a local CSO very challenging. It is difficult to encourage donors to fund proposed community initiatives especially in the rural communities and villages. Sometimes, donor funds are limited or delayed.
Most times, he travels long hours by walking along bush tracks to implement activities in villages, on a volunteer basis without salary and allowances for many years.
He has also walked to reach distant villages to conduct awareness-raising sessions. When it is too late for him to go back home, he stays with people in the community, sharing whatever food he had with them. “Doing this work is painful, but these challenges and hardship will not stop me. I will continue to give my time and skills to serve my communities,” says Tony.
KSHA worked in partnership with Femili PNG on a project: Southern Highlands Peace Building Awareness through EU-UN Spotlight funding. The Aiya Local Level Government in Kagua-Erave District had experienced decades of conflict between various tribes with 24 council wards. Tony’s regular visits and awareness-raising sessions, and Femili PNG’s training conducted to community leaders, empowered the LLG leaders to choose peace and solidarity.
Twenty selected community leaders (representatives from each 24 council wards) participated in a 5-day training program facilitated by Femili PNG in Mt Hagen. Fifteen participants were from the Aiya LLG, Kagua-Erave and the other five were KSHA Officers. The 15 participants from Aiya LLG of Kagua-Erave were community peace officers, village court officers, church leaders and women’s representatives.
After the training in 4 November 2022, the participants agreed to put an end to the decades of conflict between them. Cease-fire dialogue occurred and a peace agreement was formally made.
Tony claimed that this achievement was an outcome of hard work, perseverance in conducting activities and the strong partnership between KSHA and Femili PNG. He said, “We truly achieved the purpose of Peace Building Awareness Project, by seeing leaders of four council wards in Aiya LLG of Kagua-Erave choose to initiate a cease-fire agreement for peace. Another 20 council wards will follow in the coming years. We would not have this success without the trust and support from Femili PNG and the donor. We have worked as a team and together seen the outcome of it.”
The cease-fire ceremony is Tony’s greatest success so far. He said, “Despite challenges, my team and I managed to deliver the global aim: peace to the people living in most violent communities in the province. We highly appreciate the funders, donors, partners and the staff for working with us. PGK 66,000 is a small budget for this project but we delivered something big and that is good news for us all.”
Southern Highlands has high rates of gender-based violence and SARV. KSHA has programs and plans to support peace-building activities in the province, but is challenged by a scarcity of resources and KSHA’s funding constraints.
Tony, who courageously made his way up to where he is now as the KSHA Program Manager, is looking forward to deliver more services under the Women Peace Humanitarian Fund (WPHF) program under UN Women in the coming years. He is also happy to continue to work in partnership with Femili PNG.
Femili PNG team were pleased to learn that the training participants have since been rolling out awareness-raising sessions for their families, and are building a shelter for children and widows. The team thanked and congratulated KSHA Program Manager as well as the training participants and encouraged them to continue to do what they are doing for the good of their communities.