The Human Development Institute based at 6-Mie, Port Moresby practically lives up to its name and does so with a great sense of pride.
At every training session, there are amazing stories of people chaning their way of thinking to let go bad old habits.
Trainees are from a wide cross-section of society including experienced public servants, young university graduates, stay home mums, primary school students, school dropouts and prisoners.
The HDI continues to reach out with its ‘grassroots university training courses’ even for those without any qualifications except a desire to learn something new and improve their lot through the ability to make money and make the best use of it to enjoy some financial independence.
During a small ceremony last Wednesday, HDI signed an agreement to train a number of sex workers who ply their trade in and around the Boroko area of Port Moresby.
But you could tell from the sparkle in the eyes of their champion who took up their cause to find a way out of their lifestyle that the ladies in this shunned upon and criminalised trade would not be the same after training.
Cathy Ketepa, who was until December 2015, programme manager for a group called Friends Frangipani, has worked for a number of years with sex workers.
Friends Frangipani, according to Ketepa, now operates in seven provinces to help marginalised people.
“I am now a volunteer who advocates for the issues that affect people who are vulnerable, magrinalised and rejected by their own family members because of what they do.”
Ketepa believes she has now found a way out for such people which is through life or mental training by the HDI.
“From the beginning we have been advocating for our needs as illiterate people. We need to be taught to do cooking, sewing and small markets and how to look after our money.
“Now Friends Frangipani has engaged its members with the HDI by sending four our community members who have been seen as of no value and bound to be sex workers for the rest of their lives. They have attended the Level 1 lessons that have helped them to be viable and now they have really changed their behaviour.
“Two have continued to Level 2 in the Game of Money classes and now they know how to make money and to keep manual records of their money.”
Recently HDI has created a new programme called Home Personal Viability and Friends Frangipani noticed that it suited the sex workers so eight members of the organisation have been selected for training.
Ketepa says organisations who have been working with key populations should not only concentrate on social and health service provision but also provide such training that would help them to get out of poverty.
She says of those involved in the sex industry: “They are just human beings and should not be seen as criminals but they have reasons to get involved in activities that are considered criminal.”
Aileen Kaiulo of HDI spoke to two of these sex workers recently and here are their testimonies,
Lost Soul was a member of Friends Frangipani Inc and advocator from 2002 to 2016. Within the span of 14 years she has not attended any other training apart from the HIV/Aids training.
Friends Frangipani is the only sex worker organisation in Papua New Guinea. It started in 2004 following a police raid at a guest house at 3-Mile in Port Moresby. The raid caught the attention of the local and international media and eventually attracted an Australian sex workers organisation to PNG. Members of the organisation came purposely to give these people a voice against the unjust and uncalled-for actions of the police. The women involved were gathered to form what is today Friends Frangipani Inc.
Lost Soul says sex work is like a normal 8-4 king of job where they get paid for the service they give to their clients. She said it is fun and most of the women involved are single mothers who have been deserted by their husbands and since they have to cater for their children’s needs, unfortunately, they resort to this way of generating an income that is just enough to put food on the table.
We are all entitled to our opinions and so are the women in this group. They also have the same rights just like the rest of us.
Most of the women sadly see this as the only means of survival in the city, which is definitely not true, Lost Soul admits herself.
She further adds that there are many other ways these women can get involved in to sustain their families. This conviction made her tell us about her experience after the Level 1 Personal Viability and Level 2 Game of Money training programmes at HDI.
Friend’s Frangipani’s involvement with HDI started when they were approached by Hope World Wide who gave scholarships to the under-privileged communities in and around the country. There was a forum in 2018 that was facilitated by Hope World Wide who invited various training institutions to give briefings about the types of training provided and their benefits.
HDI was among organisations that made presentations.
Members of Friends Frangipani who were awarded these scholarships were also in attendance at the forum and as Papa Sam (Samuel Tam) introduced himself and gave background information on HDI and its training programmes, these women made up their minds that HDI definitely was the way forward, if they wanted to settle down and live better lives.
Learning the roll-over method has somehow given Lost Soul this super power she never knew existed within her.
She still cannot believe she reached her target of K1,700 in just under five days. She was shocked herself to witness the amount of money she generated from a start-up capital of K10.
“If you want to achieve something you have to have the personal power to bring you through,” she says.
Her spiritual life has always been a struggle because of the life she lived from 2002 to 2016. She thought to herself that she was not worth praying to God as she considered herself the worst of sinners, and she was not a church goer and that God only listened to people who went to church. But this all changed when she did PV training.
It made her realise that regardless of the many sins everyone on the face of this planet commits, God loves us all the same.
Lost Soul is thankful to Friends Frangipani, Hope World Wide and HDI for the life-changing experience she will forever be grateful for.
She is no longer lost and has dedicated her life to encouraging and supporting other lost souls to learn how to live a normal prosperous life.
Susie now sees herself as blessed as anyone else. PV has made her believe in herself enough to make a decision to start something for herself to get the best out of life.
“Realising I am a blessing in this world is incomparable and nothing is impossible if I put my mind to it and most importantly work hard towards achieving it all for the sole purpose of being self-reliant and financially independent,” Susie says with a resolve.
“The training provided by HDI is very different in a way that it forces people to think, act and do things which take them out of their comfort zones which is definitely not normal in the society we live in today.
:The amazing thing about this is that with the many positive things you learn from the PV training it automatically syncs in with the way you live your life together with the people in your life. Even my family have noticed changes in the way I talk, walk and do things. As much as possible I would like all my family members to have the chance to attend this PV as well.”
Susie’s goal now is to attend Level 3 Game of Rich to prove that anyone from any walk of life can do this together with the support system HDI has for its trainees.
She would like to be a role model for the many women out there who have given up on hope and have nowhere to go.
HDI is the place to come to build yourself up again, she says.
Susie encourages those who have not attended PV training yet to do so and discover the hidden potentials and talents they have within them.
“At HDI we learn how to make use of the many resources we already have around us to help us to be self-reliant and financially independent.
“Life is short so while we have the best and most of it, lets all work together and help bring each other up,” Susie says.