Friends of Nano visiting from Papua New Guinea
Two of the very first cohort of students to attend primary school with the Presentation Sisters at Malol, Papua New Guinea, close to 50 years ago, are visiting with Presentation people and schools in Australia. Husband and wife – Job, a District Education Manager with the PNG Government, and Alexia, a counsellor and former teacher – were also guest speakers at the Nagle Education Alliance of Australia (NEAA) Conference held in Sydney on 3-5 May 2017.
Job and Alexia and their two sons have accompanied the community of Presentation Sisters in the Diocese of Aitape in Papua New Guinea in many ongoing ways. Not only living next door to the sisters in Aitape town and providing friendly help and support in their community outreach work, it was Job and Alexia’s gift of traditional lands at Arop for the sisters’ community house, that has enabled them to be part of the re-settlement of villagers who lost their homes at Malol from the tsunami wave that followed an undersea earthquake in July 1998.
The challenges faced by the villagers in Arop are very real and present to the International Presentation Association. Congregations, friends, schools and ministries in USA, Canada, Ireland, in Asia and in Africa, as well as Australia and Papua New Guinea have raised funds over the past two years to construct a clean water system to save the daily trek of two hours to get fresh water for households. When completed later this year, every second house in Arop will access clean water from a shared rainwater tank.
Alexia and other Presentation people in Aitape are part of the sisters’ outreach work and regular visits to the local remand centre. They bring food and fresh water to those held in custody and help with cleaning the ablution block “to bring in fresh air and sunshine”. One project the group is planning, is to extend the remand centre to give privacy to women and improve the ablution facilities. Alexia is also a fabulous cook! In addition to organising a group of Presentation people to provide food for the prisoners and also patients in the hospital, Alexia also helps those who do not work to make and sell food to supplement household incomes.
It would not be an under-statement to say that without the faithfulness of Job and Alexia, the Presentation presence in the Diocese of Aitape could not be what it is today.