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Thinking Big: Big plans in place for Simbu after the success in Goroka and Mt. Hagen

First of many meetings of SME training in Simbu


As Mercy Works begins to wind down in Goroka and Mt. Hagen  in the Papua New Guinea highlands, Sr Maryanne Kolkia, the PNG In-Country Coordinator for Mercy Works, reflects on her experience in the programs and projects she has started there.


Mercy Works has been working tirelessly in the Goroka/Mt. Hagen region for just over fourteen years now.


In that time, Maryanne has become the driving force behind various instruments of change such as the life and skills training programs. In addition to training in practical skills like farming and sewing, Maryanne also identified the need for training in Small to Medium Enterprise (SME). Her experience taught her that this was necessary to enhance the prospects for the trainees to start up and successfully run their own businesses to sell the goods they produce.


Reflecting on what she has gained from this training program Maryanne says, ‘the training has given me the opportunity to find a way forward’, with plans to now buy shares in LNB Savings and Loans Society. She goes onto say that ‘the team behind her is the reason for the strength and hope she carries every day.’


‘Helping them plan for the future on top of the strong foundations built as a result of this training. I know that this training has given them the focus to improve their skills and plan for their futures,’ she says.


The belief that teaching and training those in this community would help them lift themselves out of poverty and towards a better future is one of the many reasons that has driven Maryanne to succeed. Mercy Works may be leaving the Goroka/Mt. Hagen area but the Mercy Works’ legacy will continue to transform lives well into the future.


The first graduation ceremony for the Small to Medium Enterprise training course held in Goroka last year, was a part of this legacy.  On Friday July 10th, fifty-five students officially graduated from the SME training program, conducted in partnership with Jabez Business Services and the Department of Trade and Commerce. This milestone was marked with the presence of the Planning and Monitoring Minister, with Maryanne as the MC for the event.


Adasha was one of these graduates. She was orphaned at only three days old when her mother passed away and, like many girls in Papua New Guinea, she finished school in fifth grade.


It wasn’t until some years later when she was looking to improve her basic skills in sewing and baking that she found and attended the Mercy Works Skills Training workshop for the first time. It was through Mercy Works that Adasha was able to access Money Minded Training with ANZ bank and also Business Awareness and Business Planning Training with Jabez Business Services.


From this training Adasha successfully started her own business. This opportunity gave her the chance to build her business confidence and develop her skills. Her hard work and eagerness to learn has made her dreams a reality. Now she is planning to expand her business into a tailoring company.


The theme developed by Maryanne for the SME program, ‘Leave No One Behind’, was created with the aim of building a pathway through agriculture and other businesses to sustainability, reliability and ownership into the future – essential to community development for the poor and disadvantaged people of Papua New Guinea.


This idea particularly resonated with Adasha who tells herself every day that ‘I can do it, nothing is hard, it is just a matter of trying your best.’


Now that Mercy Works has started to move into Simbu Province, Maryanne is working tirelessly to make connections with local leaders and identify the needs of the community. Simbu province is a rugged mountainous area located in the central highlands. Although the smallest province in the country in land area, it is the most densely populated. A large part of the focus in Simbu will be the SME Training model that was very successful in Goroka and Mt. Hagen.


‘Thinking Big, Starting Small’ is the statement that will underpin this program. Maryanne’s drive and determination to bring about meaningful change within the community provides the foundations for the goals of the program through job creation and up-skilling vulnerable women and men.


Maryanne Kolkia RSM


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