A young woman’s grit to challenge what’s “normal” in her community gains her recognition and brings out the best in her leadership ability.
By CLARISSA MOI
Dreams are achievable and change is inevitable when you work extraordinarily each day, youth advocate and 2018 Queen’s Young Leader runner-up Lydia Dimokari says as she recalls her journey.
Dimokari, 24, from Milne Bay and Northern, is someone who is passionate about seeing change in her community and her beautiful country at large.
“I started a community empowerment project called Mission Vibe in 2015 with the idea to break out of my comfort zone and reach out to young girls in my street through facilitating sessions to help them.
“I believe that at end of the day I want to contribute my skills to my nation’s polices, visions, and the overarching Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“I worked around advocating against violence against women and children and creating safe spaces for women and girls, through helping to facilitate in a school programme called Equal Playing Field (EPF).
“I also work with the United Nations in Papua New Guinea to promote SDGs through existing programmes and platforms,” Dimokari said.
Urith Toa, former communications and marketing officer for The Voice Inc (TVI), a youth organisation that provides leadership development programmes for students at the national universities, said that Dimokari was like a seed planted in the environment called TVI when she first joined the programme in 2014.
“The heart this young woman showed, the humility in giving up time to volunteer for things, the willingness to share.
“To always show gratitude, through little book marks and cards, made her different from others,” she said.
Toa said that when she first met her in 2014, during her first year of studying at University of Papua New Guinea, Dimokari was shy but one could tell that she was a little held back.
Dimokari continued in the second and third levels of the leadership development programme that TVI offered.
“She silently goes through challenges, like many young people and these have only made her a stronger person.
“It makes me so proud to see her tackle challenges a lot more head on than before, even in her gentle nature, but she still always seeks guidance and that is the humility in her that I admire,” Toa said.
In 2016, Dimokari was awarded the Champion for Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“This was one of the first major awards I believe Dimokari had received and it was well-deserved for a young woman who was actually doing work to help her community and other young women around her, literally starting in her backyard.
“This recognition brought her into the limelight and came with a lot of effort, but I’m so proud of how she kept going and took in all the opportunities.”
In 2017, Dimokari was awarded the Archers Leadership scholarship funded by the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF).
KTF selects final year tertiary students from PNG each year to participate in the Archer Leadership programme based on their leadership experience, commitment to community and academic achievement. Scholarship recipients benefit from mentoring, tuition and boarding fees, educational and professional development resource support, work experience, community projects and a leadership exchange to Australia.
“She was growing from strength to strength, and this was another step in what I believe will be a continuous leadership journey.”
Toa said that all those challenges have led to her representing PNG at the 7th Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum at the United Nations headquarters in New York early this year.
ECOSOC Youth Forum is an annual platform through which youths from member states contribute to policy discussions at the UN.
Dimokari said that she realised that young people in her community did not attend school or have challenges with completing their education and she would like to help them through her skills, talents, knowledge and experience to guide them to a better future.
“Mission Vibe is basically to give the young people a positive space and a place to feel valued.
“My best friends and I run the project in family backyards and it is something we do in our capacity with no major donor funding, we just use our pocket allowance.
“The project is not registered and we just go with what we know.”
One of the members, Noelyn Saemate, 19, from Gulf and Autonomous Region of Bougainville, said that the programmes offered by Mission Vibe, especially the informational sessions, have helped her grow.
“We’ve had sessions based on goal-setting, circle of influence and relationships, values, to name a few.
“I’ve learnt to set boundaries in my relationship with others and also am equipped with the basic life information. I help my friends when they face little life problems.”
She said that through Mission Vibe, she got involved with other non-governmental organisations to volunteer as well as attend programmes and activities that they conducted.
“I volunteer with the UN Women’s Safe City programme, the SanapWantaim campaign from time to time and have attended a facilitators’ training conducted by Population Service International (PSI) recently.”
Saemate said that Dimokari was a very committed person.
“She calls us up for meetings, sometimes all the youths will turn up. Other days, there’s literally no one.
“She never gives up on us. She believes in the potentials in the young people in her community and commits to her vision of seeing change in her community.”
Dimokari said that Mission Vibe had gained momentum lately and through their partner organisations like TVI, Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), EPF and other individuals, who have supported it, people have got to know more about them.
“At the end of the day I would like Mission Vibe to be a recognised project and a center for information programmes in volunteering, homework, reading and practical skills.
“My goal this year is to expand the programme to other young people living in different suburbs, in school, not in school and also get some funding to run the project.
“My vision for Papua New Guinea is that people will be equipped with knowledge, information and be able to use that for their daily living and development.”
Dimokari says that in a places where we see so much brokenness, loneliness in homes, schools, and streets, where there is injustice, where there is no hope and arising need for love, people will have hope and faith.
“I see that development will come from within the individual’s hope of a better place to live in that will bring a difference.”
She said that to make a change is to be different, to have an eagerness to learn and see something different.
“I dream of PNG to be beautiful as it has been, to sustain all that it has, and people both young and old will work towards the development of the country.”
Dimokari said that her leadership development has been a journey where she has been equipped with information, practice and experiences as she quotes John C Maxwell: ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership.’
“I believe that leadership can rise and fall on different individuals.
“The process of change for me took three years of a shift in my heart and mindset; it took my sleep away, nights of endless tears, took my home away from me so I can live uncomfortably and challenge the family status quo.
“It taught me to be careful with my circle of influence. And most of all, be okay with being different and trusting God no matter what.
“Be faithful to the process of change, listen to that inner voice that whispers you can do it because that’s God saying go son, go daughte! I will give you hope, purpose, protection and provision.
“And dare to be uncomfortable with what you see and change it. But most of all, enjoy the journey.”