Worrying conditions of the youth in Sepik
Fr. Shanthi Puthussery PIME, National Catholic Youth Coordinator, recently gave a leadership training course to the parish youth coordinators of the dioceses of Aitape and Wewak.
What did transpire as a main concern of the Church youth leaders in regard to their peers?
East and West Sepik are a bit isolated and more remote compared to other provinces of Papua New Guinea. The interaction with other areas and people is limited, thus the communities are more backward in terms of human and social growth. Albert Tapan, from Angoram parish, said that virtually everybody in the village makes a sort of alcoholic jungle juice from the coconut fruit which mainly affects the youth. He also added that the attitude of Sepik people is that they know ‘everything’, therefore they do not listen and do not care. According to Eduards Lamman, from Wewak Hill parish, marijuana is available everywhere at Aitape and Wewak and boys start using it as soon as they are Grade 3.
How did you find the youth ministry in the two dioceses of Sepik?
At Aitape there is no full time youth coordinator, and youth ministry is not really organized. According to the participants, the leadership training we had will be a real boost to organize the youth ministry in the diocese. Aitape has three deaneries - Aitape, Nuku and Lumi. At Nuku, after the killing of the Headmaster of St. Francis High School on 12 March this year, the tension is still high and the police continue their investigation. The school has closed for this year affecting the Church and youth activities since people cannot move around freely. At Wewak, Mr. James Taku has been the diocesan youth coordinator for ten years now. He has been organizing youth rallies at deanery level once a year. The diocese has three deaneries: Wewak, Maprik and Sepik river (for a total of 46 parishes, the largest number in PNG). During the welcome and farewell speech he mentioned that he and the youth of the diocese are very happy with the learning materials we are using for the youth ministry - Doing by Learning and Learning by Doing 2012. He already conducted workshops in twelve parishes based on this booklet and he is now trying to reach out to the other parishes as well.
What is the situation of the family in this predominantly Catholic area?
As in all other provinces, Sepik is experiencing the same issues in the families: lack of parental care, separations and divorces, single mothers, domestic violence, etc. Victor Yegiwale, from Boikin parish, said that in Sepik the parents are becoming careless due to their poor income and means of living.
How does the situation of the family reflect on the younger generations?
As usual parents do not worry much about their children’s future. A number of the participants of the leadership workshop said that the parents did not care about their education after Grade 9. Some of them even said that they were told to leave the house and go elsewhere. Things need to change for the youth in Sepik! (CBC Communications 010712 – firstname.lastname@example.org)