Lae, Morobe Province: The Child Protection Voluntary Officers Workshop was coordinated by the Child Protection Office of Catholic Diocese of Lae, assisted by Right Relationship in Ministry of CBC PNGSI.
The workshop was conducted from 01st to 05th February 2021, at Diocesan Pastoral Centre, situated in Eight Mile, Lae. Facilitating the workshop were Sr Ancy John SCSA, Directress of Right Relationship in Ministry CBC PNGSI; Mr Andrew Zuhukepe, Training Coordinator- Family PNG; Mrs Emily Boski, Child Protection Officer, Social and Welfare Office, Morobe Province; and Mr Noel Apul, Diocesan Child Protection Officer.
A good number of the 35 participants were teachers from all the Catholic agency schools while others were Family Life coordinators, Sunday school teachers, youth animators, catechists and village court magistrate, representing the nine districts of Morobe including Tewae Siassi and Bulolo.
The workshop began with the Holy Eucharistic celebration and an opening address by the Bishop of the diocese, Most Rev. Rozario Menezes SMM. In his address to the participants, he stated that “we started the day with lighting candles. Abuse always takes place in the darkness. The absence of light is darkness. If there are lighted candles. There is no darkness, there is no abuse. Spiritually, we have begun this day with light, meaning, I will be a light and there is no darkness. All over the world, the church has become a darkness due to various abuses and scandals. As long as we are on this earth, it is our duty to protect our children. This is a lifelong process and it is not a paid job. But you are becoming a light to the family, community, church, wherever you are…”
The workshop had four crucial objectives, namely:
• To train all the volunteers to be knowledgeable of Child Protection act 2015 and the Church Policy of Child Protection in PNG;
• To effectively respond, to advocate, to educate, and to report cases of child abuse in the Catholic agency schools and respective parishes in the Diocese of Lae;
• Highlight the important role of parents as first teachers and catechists in the family;
• To give emphasis on Children’s rights, and raise to light the various types of abuses and how the volunteer could assist the children who were abused; and
• To become the voice of the voiceless and responsible citizens in creating a better and safer Family/Community/Church/School/ PNG for the children.
Discussions and training activities were held that dwelled on the inputs from the Child Protection Act 2015; Family Protection Act 2013; types of abuses and reasons for the Abuses; Family Relationships and Broken Relationships; Signs and Consequences of Abuses. The culmination was the blessing of the participants and presentation of the certificate of participation by Most Rev. Rozario Menezes SMM, Bishop of the Diocese of Lae.
The participants displayed their commitment to be agents of change and to involve themselves in educating, advocating, creating awareness to prevent and protect the children from all forms of abuse.
Sr Ancy John SCSA, Directress of Right Relationship in Ministry CBC PNGSI.