The National- Monday, February 7, 2011
By RIGGO NANGAN
THE way down is the way up, a self-reliant divorcee told a Briskanda workshop at the Lae International Hotel last week.
Leah Gatsia, a single mother of one from Pindiu in Morobe, was left to fend for herself and her young child when her husband abandoned her some years ago.
Despite this, Gatsia now owns and manages a 14ha cocoa plot and a small coconut plantation at her block of land at Situm in the Nawaeb electorate.
She is also a HIV/AIDS awareness coordinator and prayer warrior for single mothers.
She was invited to give her testimony at the two-day workshop staged by the New Zealand AID-funded Bris Kanda programme aimed at getting stakeholders to contribute ideas to improve lives of people in their communities.
Gatsia said after her husband left, she was devastated but she remembered that God made her and the soil on which she could “not only stand on, but put her hand into”.
Another woman, Abba Bamua, who is the Lae district women’s programme coordinator, told the workshop that her group was working on getting all schools to have women representatives on their school boards.
Bamua said there were too many school girls leaving school prematurely due to social problems and every school should have counselling time for students, especially girls, with problems such as unwanted pregnancies or those having difficulties when going through their first monthly periods.
Elic Guaf of the National Agricultural Research Institute outlined the different crops researched by the institute that could withstand all types of weather, even droughts and harsh wet seasons.
The other presenters were the Lae chamber of commerce HIV/AIDS mobilisation unit, Fresh Produce Development Agency, Coffee Industries Corporation, church women groups and the Morobe provincial community development division.
PNG Women in Agriculture president Maria Liminbi and board member Enny Moaitz, provincial chairman of fisheries Haggai Joshua and provincial forest chairman Peter Namus also attended.
Bris Kanda workshop coordinator Rhonda Gwale said ideas contributed by the different groups will be of paramount importance to the work of Bris Kanda and the audience of which it was established to improve their living standards.