Irish Patrician Brother Fundraising for Papua New Guinea

A Patrician brother who is on a visit to his native County Laois has been raising funds to educate young people in Papua New Guinea.\"\\"\\"\"

Brother Thomas Rice, originally from Mountrath, wants to set up a Distance Learning Centre in Papua New Guinea.  There, 80% of students do not progress beyond primary school and, with little prospect of work, become involved petty crime, alcohol and drugs when they return to their villages.

Brother Rice wants to raise €10, 000 to fund the education programme.  While he is home in Laois, he has published articles in all the local press about the project he would dearly love to progress when he returns to his mission in November.

“It is a pretty desolate area where we are, and funding is pretty minimal to be honest,” he told ciNews.  \\\"So we wanted to let Irish people know about this.  People know they can’t give up their lives and go and help in Papua New Guinea but they can contribute in some way.\\\"

He feels the project will give some really good young people the opportunity to learn a trade such as carpentry, motor mechanics or sewing.  This will have a life changing impact on the students and the whole community. 

When people aged around 14 finish primary school they return to their villages in remote areas so the External Studies / Distance Learning Centre will enable them to continue studying.  The centre will train through use of notes and units of work and material, similar to that used in correspondence courses, but modern technology will also be used when possible.

“I have been promised some laptops from Australia and I hope to get them to New Guinea and I will use some interactive programmes,” Brother Rice said.  But even the most basic materials are required for the new centre.  “We also need textbooks, they are very limited too,” he said. 

“We want to set up a library so we can improve literacy and numeracy and the books will come from our schools in Australia.”

Brother Rice has been working in the Sanduan province in the west of the country.  The nearest city, Wewak, is about 100km away and the journey can take anywhere between six and thirty-six hours to travel, because of poor infrastructure and in the rainy season.

Brother Rice has already used distance learning for the formation of young Papua New Guinea men as Patrician brothers.  When he arrived he had only one companion, a brother from Australia, but now there are 18 young brothers who have been educated and some have gone on to open schools and basic health centres in other remote areas. 

He hopes to replicate a similar model of education and use some of the interactive material already prepared.

He explained that not all of Papua New Guinea is under developed or poor, in fact some of it has similar infrastructure to Ireland.  The more prosperous areas are mainly in the highlands region, whereas the Western province and Sanduan are remote with poor infrastructure. 

One difficulty the indigenous people there suffer is that some areas have been denuded of forests that used to be their home and source of food.  For further details:

by Ann Marie Foley

© 2002-2012



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