Wednesday, October 15, 2008 – Port Moresby: the Digicel PNG Foundation launched its first community based project today, a Mobile Learning Centre for the 8 Mile community in Port Moresby.
The Digicel Foundation is a non-profit organisation which was established by Digicel in Papua New Guinea in September 2008. The Digicel Foundation distributes and utilises funds on a charitable basis for the sole purpose of building communities and community spirit in PNG. The Foundation is primarily staffed by employees of Digicel who assist communities through their time, expertise and leadership. The Patron of the Digicel Foundation is Denis O’Brien, the Chairman and Founder of the Digicel Group. The Digicel Foundation is the third Foundation to be established by Digicel, and the first in the Pacific region, following the establishment of the Foundation in Jamaica in 2004 and in Haiti in 2007. In Haiti the Foundation succeeded in building 20 primary schools, throughout the country, within a year providing a huge boost for the quality of the education in the country.
The Digicel PNG Foundation is starting off by providing selected marginalized urban and sub urban communities in Port Moresby, as well as other towns and cities in PNG, with Mobile Learning Centres. The Mobile Learning Centres will be used as a pre-school, library, resource centre and community learning centre for various kinds of training such as adult literacy, skilled-based training, cooking and sewing for women, and HIV/AIDS awareness. 8 Mile, Moitaka, Badili, 6 Mile, 9 Mile, DahCavill Customary School in Laloki and Taurama village are some of the places earmarked to receive a Mobile Learning Centre including educational related materials such as books and a mobile black board.
The Foundation is working closely with several non-government organisations and churches – World Vision Pacific Development Group (PDG), Hope Worldwide PNG, Four Square Church, City Mission, , Gateway Church and WeCARe Foundation – to get the Mobile Learning Centres to the areas where they are most needed. The churches and NGO’s will also be responsible for the operations of the Mobile Learning Centre by helping with pre- school teacher training, skills training, adult literacy classes and any other areas of support that have been identified within the community.
The Department for Community Development is also closely involved in this project. The Mobile Learning Centres will form a basis for the implementation of the new Integrated Community Development policy whereby the Mobile Learning Centres can de used to help strengthen communities from the “inside out” with some support from the “outside” depending on the needs of that community.
Unemployed youths from the Morata Vocational Centre are making a major contribution to this project, as part of their carpentry training course initiated by the Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation and Yumi Lukautim Mosbi Projek. The trainees are making school black boards and school desks for the Mobile Learning Centres and schools that the Digicel Foundation is building.
The Minister for Commmunity Development, Hon. Dame Carol Kidu, who officially launched the Digicel Foundation with the first Mobile Learning Centre in 8 Mile, said: “We are very happy to partner with the Digicel Foundation in their Mobile Learning Centre roll out programme. The Mobile Learning Centres will give communities a physical focal point from which communities can grow and strengthen themselves depending on their needs. Strong people and communties are at the heart of local and grassroots development, and this is much needed especially in the urban and sub urban areas where everyday life is not always easy. I’m extremely grateful that NGO’s, churches, the Digicel Foundation and the corporate sector are showing their willingness to partner on the new government policy for Integrated Community Development which focuses on strengthening families and the community by providing access to learning and knowledge for all in line with our international obligations.”
According to the Founder and Chairman of the Digicel Group and Patron of the Digicel Foundation, Denis O’Brien, : “We are proud to be launching the Digicel Foundation in PNG today. It is my belief, and a core value of Digicel, that as we grow our communities should grow with us. The Foundation strives to support projects that provide opportunities that will inspire and build positive energy in its citizens, which will in turn lead to stronger, self sufficient communities.”
“The launch of the first Mobile Learning Centre in the 8 Mile Community has already gone a long way in lifting community spirit and inspiring new hope for the future for these people and ultimately the future of PNG," added Denis O'Brien.
Digicel PNG Foundation Chairman, Peter Aitsi, said: “The Mobile Learning Centre here in 8 Mile is the first realization of Digicel Foundation’s vision to make a difference and play a positive role in peoples lives. We are thankful for the warm welcome and support we have received within the communities as well as the strong partnership that has formed with the NGO’s and the churches we are working closely with to get these projects off the ground. At the end of the day it is a joint effort that is needed to make it work, community, government, NGOs and business houses and it is great to see this happening.”
Besides the roll out of Mobile Learning Centres in POM the Foundation is completely rebuilding a primary and elementary school with 8 class rooms (including black boards and new school desks), a staff room, a library, a toilet block and a water tank in Barakau village, Central Province within a 4 month time frame. This school launch will take place during November.