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Friday, 18 July, 2013 – Port Moresby: The Digicel PNG Foundation announced, at a media event today, that over K7m was invested in a total of 93 community based projects in the areas of basic education and health in financial year 2012-13. The event marked the launch of the Foundation’s Annual Report outlining the organizations roll out of projects during the last financial year and the plans for the next financial year.

The Digicel Foundation’s achievements in 2012-13 in the area of education have included:

  • Construction of 44 primary school classrooms in rural areas, providing 1,400 primary school students with  a much improved learning environment and clean water and sanitation facilities
  • Construction of 46 elementary school classrooms in rural areas, providing 920 children which a much improved learning environment and clean water and sanitation facilities
  • Ongoing operation of 31 Community Learning Center (CLC) schools which provide basic education to 1,500 children in marginalized communities
  • Continuation of the Isi Learning program, a community based teacher training program in partnership with Unity Foursquare Church training 61 grass roots community based teachers in the CLC schools in Port Moresby.

In the area of Health & Community development the Foundation has funded:

  • Another Mobile Health Clinic, providing free health services to more than 15,000 people in rural areas, bringing to a total of 10 MHC funded since 2009
  • 2 Rural Health Aid Posts for the first time in communities accessible only by foot. Kerau in Goilala is an 8 hour hike from Tapini and Paingopa in the Kaintiba District is a 5 day walk from Kerema town.
  • The Basic Life and Business Skills Program, in partnership with local NGO (Ginigoada Business Development Foundation), providing life skills and job opportunities to over 3,000 program graduates
  • Providing financial and skill based support for WeCARe Foundation aiming to improve the living conditions of children and young women living in the settlements of Port Moresby.

Reflecting on the past 12 months Digicel PNG Foundation’s Executive Director, Beatrice Mahuru, said; “This year, was our fourth full year in operation and we notched a few milestones in our armour. This was the first year in which we included solar solutions to all our infrastructure investments. We completed our first special needs playground for Callan Services in Alotau and launched our first special needs double classroom which children can access by a ramp. We have built an ablution block in between with modifications to suit children learning with a disability. We began our first paid employee volunteer day program. Our Digicel staff volunteers have been moved by the enthusiasm of children and their eagerness to learn even in the most challenging environments. This was the year in which we completed our first Life and Business Skills Program in partnership with Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation and witnessed 3,107 participants graduate with a Life and Business Skills Certificate. After two full years of running the Isi Learning Program, this was the first year we measured our Community Learning Centre Student performance and what an amazing testimony to our Isi Learning Program. I would like to acknowledge our partnership with the Unity Foursquare church and Mr Vincent Gene, our hardworking, dedicated Isi Learning Facilitator who is a former teacher himself and a school inspector.

At Digicel Foundation, we are proud of this amazing opportunity in our roles to make a lasting difference in the lives of those less fortunate then ourselves and I thank our Patron, Denis O’Brien for his constant support to our work, to our Chairman, Richard Kassman for his guidance and leadership and to our Board Members for the expertise they bring to our work. Our team will continue to maintain the key principles of excellence, integrity, innovation and openness to all communities as we increase our footprint. I would especially like to thank our former CEO, Marina van der Vlies and former staff members, Naus Kamal and Shirley Waal who have since left in pursuit of new challenges. I wish them every success and I welcome Haro Gomara, Ruth Javin and Lawrence Kakale.”

Looking at the plans for this financial year (2013-14) Digicel Foundation’s Chairman, Richard Kassman added; “Digicel Foundation continues to evolve and refine its processes and establishing relationships with key partners in developing PNG’s rural and remote communities. As the Foundation continues to increase its footprint, it is mindful of working in close consultation with key partners in the communities, churches, private sectors, government and non-government organizations (NGO’s) to build an understanding of the current development issues particularly in the Foundation’s five core focus areas so as to prioritize its investment to ensure a fair and transparent distribution, that cuts across cultural, religious and geographical divides, serving our Foundation without fear or favour.

In FY2013/2014, Digicel PNG Foundation’s core focus areas remain: Education, Health, Community Building, Domestic Violence and Special Needs. In taking the Foundation forward, it will harness the information and communication technology through the mobile phone to leapfrog PNG’s geographic and topographic barriers to increase access to health care and health related information, and increase access to education resources and materials, joining the ICT revolution that is transforming the region. This year, the Foundation has begun closer dialogue with members of parliament, assisting the PNG government implement its public-private partnership agenda. The Foundation aims to work in closer consultation with the Department for Youth, Religion and Community Development in understanding the policies on addressing disability issues. The Foundation will continue to collaborate with the Departments of Health and Education to ensure that its education and health project distribution across the 22 provinces compliments respective provincial and district development plans.”

To date the Digicel Foundation has funded 148 community based projects covering 22 provinces in PNG and put K19.79 million back into marginalized PNG communities which has directly impacted more than 200,000 people. The Digicel Foundation plans to continue the funding of community projects in the area of basic education and health aiming to support communities as they become more self-reliant in the future.