Amidst everything that is currently happening around the world, one of the biggest challenges that Papua New Guinea faces is the growth of youth which already represents 60% of the entire population. If the government does not start acting accordingly, then these young people could become vulnerable to delinquency and violence and end up increasing overall homelessness in Papua New Guinea.
Life of Homeless Children
According to the Life PNG Care Director Collin Pake, there were around 5,000 homeless children in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, in 2018. Many of them migrated from the rural areas of PNG looking for cleaning jobs as a way to help their families, while others received encouragement to go to the capital in search of their dreams. Additionally, others left home after experiencing abandonment from their families or ran away because of abuse or losing their family to illness.
But no matter their reasons, when coming to the capital they encounter many obstacles that do not let them prosper. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the employment per ratio population in Papua New Guinea has considerably dropped from 69% to 46%. It is not news that finding well-paid employment in the capital is hard. For that reason, many young people engage in informal jobs to subsist, as well as many live out in the streets due to the high rent.
According to a research by Professor Eugene Ezebilo, head of the property development program at the PNG National Research Institute, rent around the capital is too high for low-income families; often an apartment listing can go for around $300-600 USD a week, which represents rent stress for many families living in Port Moresby. In this way, many either become homeless, recur to ask for money from other family members or live in the outskirts of the city in informal houses.
How Life PNG Care Improves the Lives of Homeless Children
In an effort to reduce homelessness in Papua New Guinea, Pake and his wife started LIfe PNG Care 12 years ago. In 2018, it granted shelter, food and care to around 54 children. It even offers an education program that caters to 100 children.
Life PNG Care offers accommodation, education and advocates for child protection. They run three main education programs: the Strongim Pikinini program, Home School education program and Mobile Education program.
Furthermore, efforts of NCD Food Bank volunteers have resulted in the preparation of food bags for the homeless, street kids, people with disabilities and those who are experiencing food poverty in Port Moresby. This work has been especially important during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Yet, the problem still continues unless more results come from the government. Indeed, a way to not let the youth become an obstacle for the economy is supporting them in every way possible with better access to education, health and employment. This youth with guidance can become quite an exceptional asset for the economy and in ending homelessness in Papua New Guinea
– Alannys Milano