Caritas Papua New Guinea (PNG) was founded in 1974 by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands as the National Committee for Development and Peace – a member of the Pacific Partnership for Human Development (PPHD). A few years later it was renamed to “Catholic Commission for Justice, Peace & development” to suit its role and function in PNG society. In early 2000, its current name Caritas Papua New Guinea was adopted to be identified with the greater Caritas family around the world. Today, the agency is the Justice, Peace, Development and Relief agency of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
Caritas Papua New Guinea exists in order to play an active role in social justice, peace, human development, and emergency operations. It intends to address the underlying causes of dependence, disparities, poverty and injustice that are undermining the true nature of human dignity in Papua New Guinea as part of the pastoral mission of the Church of promoting the Catholic Social Teaching; as well as being a voice for the poor and marginalised to build a better Papua New Guinea.
Whenever or wherever a disaster occurs in the country, the agency is able to respond immediately to deliver vital humanitarian relief to the people most in need. In 2007, when cyclone Guba struck Oro province, causing widespread flooding killing over 150 people affecting an estimated 145 000 people, Caritas Papua New Guinea intervened by providing shelter, food and hygiene kits to flood victims and the homeless.
Once the immediate needs were carried out, the agency then focused their efforts on long-term developmental projects by rebuilding homes and rehabilitation of local agriculture. The National Office performs the coordination role while the Dioceses implement projects that include:
- Coordination of the Caritas network
- Relationship with Caritas Partners
- A voice for social justice issues at the national level
- Facilitating information exchange
- Administering the Lenten Appeal
- Collaboration with other CBC Commissions
- Communication with stakeholders
- Disaster Management
- Social Education
- Child Protection
- Gender Advocacy
- Research & Advocacy
The National Office in Port Moresby is headed by the National Director and is assisted by 4 Programme Officers: Integral Human Development and Peace-Building, Disaster and Relief, Research and Advocacy, Caritas and Lenten Programme which includes Finance and Administration. Each division has a team of 2-4 officers who are engaged on needs basis. The National office serves the 19 Caritas Dioceses and 400 parishes with its clusters of ‘Basic Christian Communities’, schools and health services.
The agency works closely with the Caritas network on overseas developmental programmes with members such as Caritas Oceania, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas Australia. In-country development partners include law and justice sector agencies within the government both at the national and local level, parishes and likeminded NGOs.