Archived News Item

Living the Mercy Spirit in Papua New Guinea

Steven Dude, Mercy Works Kiunga Project Coordinator


Mercy Works’ many projects and programs couldn’t be carried out without its well-trained and dedicated staff.  Anne Foale RSM recently spoke to one such staff member for his perspective on his work.


Mercy Works has three offices in Papua New Guinea in addition to the five located around Australia, including the head office in Sydney. The local staff in each of these places is key to ensuring the successful delivery of programs and projects. One such worker is Steven Dude, Mercy Works Kiunga Project Coordinator.


Steven has been in this role since 2015, having started working there part time in 2012. He is responsible for overseeing and managing all the Mercy Works projects in the Western Province, while maintaining a close working relationship with Mercy Works in Sydney, Project Leaders and Networking Partners.


Each of our past and present team members has a unique story, of which Mercy Works is part. During Sr Anne Foale’s visit to Papua New Guinea earlier this year, she spoke with Steven to find out more about this capable and dedicated Mercy Works’ team member.


What was your experience before coming to Mercy Works Kiunga?
Before coming to Mercy Works Kiunga, I was working with my local West Papuan communities as a Youth Leader. I gained experience by working with community leaders that enhanced my ability to carry out tasks for our communities. I am also involved in sporting activities with Kiunga Town Soccer Association. I represented the Kiunga team playing soccer within the North Fly District and I was then selected to play for Team Western during the PNG games at Lae in 2010.


One of my biggest experiences was with Tingim Laip program. It’s a not-for-profit organisation focusing on raising awareness about minimising the HIV/Aids epidemic in PNG. My role was coordinating with Tingim Laip stakeholders, implementing planned activities within Kiunga Township and reporting (narrative and finance) to the Tingim Laip Program coordinator of the Southern Region.


Being involved in these social activities and working voluntarily to assist the vulnerable people within Kiunga town was a huge task for me and at the same time it was enjoyable work. It has allowed me to meet and work with different classes of people. These experiences enhanced my skills, knowledge and desire to help others. My roles with the West Papuan Community include chairing meetings, discussing and finding solutions for issues affecting the community and working with UNHCR and other agencies as an interpreter for West Papuan Communities.


What are some of the main things you have learned since joining Mercy Works Kiunga?
I have learned a lot from Mercy Works, and three of the significant things are: good governance; effective people and project management; and team work.


I am able to speak English confidently in public places. English is now my fourth language and since joining Mercy Works Kiunga I am able to write and speak English.


Personally, I started to be more self-disciplined and trustworthy towards friends, relatives and the surrounding community. I am nourished both spiritually and socially with my family and community to be a good community member. My experiences have taught me good values that help me understand the meaning of life. These values are: honesty; trust; caring for others; respect; and being responsible while maintaining my commitment.


What do you appreciate about working with Mercy Works?
I came to Mercy Works Kiunga from a lower educational background, with few experiences dealing with people. Currently I am equipped with professional development skills from recognised institutions in Papua New Guinea. I came with little experience, but now I am filled with skills and knowledge of how to approach people and work with them from a social development perspective. Mercy Works programs operate with minimal resources, but always satisfy needs of our people and are appreciated by the beneficiaries. The only words that I have heard from the people we help are “thank you Mercy Works”.


The word “Mercy” has enhanced my desire and ability to assist people with compassion. When I encounter challenges, “Mercy” often gives me the courage and patience to deal with difficult people at project sites. After the completion of the task I often reflect and ask myself whether my actions were working simultaneously with the name of “Mercy”.


Is there any thing else you would like to add?
Mercy Works Kiunga Project is making an impact on people’s lives and the demand is increasing. People from remote communities are seeking assistance and we are assisting them in the best way we can, with the resources we have available.


Large Liquefied Natural Gas projects will take place soon and the development will be more focused on the Western Province, there will be a need for increased focus on social issues. The challenge is how we can continue to fill the gaps so that our community members maintain their standard of living in a positive and sustainable way.


Messages to:  Lauren Stariha

Article originally appeared in Bilum magazine – June 2019