By MICHAEL LAI
IMAIRU Village in the inland Rigo district, Central is using the Word of God through the church to fight against cult practices, sorcery, and witchcraft for better living.
These practices have reduced the community population by five to 10 deaths per year from the 1960s to 2000. But when the Imairu Renewal Church began leading the community through crusades and awareness against these practices in 2015, the death rate has dropped. Only two persons died through natural causes between 2015 and 2017.
This breakthrough has further boosted the youth outreach ministry to visit inland villages of Gokata area including Galeba village.
The locals anticipate to see their poverty-stricken village to change and develop by using the word of God as a avenue for mass rehabilitation.
The move by the church is themed God First.
Wina Lengi, who is the chairman of the church encourage people’s participation not only in church activities but also in other projects to improve the livelihood of people there.
He said the area has a few run-down government services and lacked clean water, community markets, decent housing and good buildings for church activities and village court sessions.
The lack of proper roads and a low literacy level among the population add to the villagers’ woes, Lengi said.
He said village was left like a community without a chief and was unorganised.
“There is no capital except the land and the people. What we use now for development is the people’s participation and the land with bush materials for improvements in people’s lives.”
The vision of community participation for development has become chief idea that mobilised fathers, mothers, youth and children to do something about their life situation.
While putting God first in their community work for development, a permanent church was built with the support of churches from Port Moresby and Kwikila. The church is also a safe refuge against the belief of sorcery and witchcraft in the community.
Doing church work together was the beginning of people’s participation for community development. Through their commitment and communal participation the church building was erected.
The church brought the people together for the first time. This really showed that the community put God first.
Communal work has encouraged the villagers to look at other projects. The community has prioritised the building of the first village library and resource center to promote the work of the Office of National Library and Archives under its 10-year strategic plan from 2016 to 2025.
The library and archive will address low literacy issues as well as keep the old documents safe.
“By implementing this both young and old people will have access to books and information to boost and improve their perception; through an awareness of what is happening locally we will understand global trends,” Legi said.
Legi has become the village development project advisor and chairman of the community by default.
Group participation in village work has changed the perception and mindsets of people.
So far the church has held a number of fellowships and crusades from 2015 to 2018.
As the elders have pointed out, the practice of sorcery was prevalent and the death toll attributed to the practice was high.
However, such belief in the sorcery and mindset of the people has changed through the crusades and their faith is now in the Word of God.
Legi said Imairu village was now safe.
“It is structured, organised and mobilised to link up with relevant stakeholders and development partners.”
Now the village is divided into sections and allotments to set up houses in a standard pattern so that roads can run throughout the village.
A technical group is taking measurements of distances after which roads will be built and then houses will be erected.
This zoning of houses which make Imairu a model village in the Rigo Inland area.
The community is prepared and waiting for any development partners like government and NGOs to implement the projects. Lengi said they were prepared to work with any development partner under the government policies like Public-Private Partnership, Sweat Equity, Church and Government Partnership Policy, Rural Housing Policy.
The village men and women are now engaged in micro-enterprise activities like vegetable farming.
By MICHAEL LAI