Call from PNG to step up to life giving partnership

Thursday, 19 July 2012
Rev. Bernard Siai and his wife Wendy Rev. Bernard Siai and his wife Wendy (click to expand)

HIV/AIDS is a major problem in our country and we simply don’t have all the answers, said Rev Bernard Siai, Moderator-elect of the United Church of Papua New Guinea. 

PNG has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the Pacific, and statistics indicate that numbers continue to grow.

 “The women within the Church are particularly strong in the communities, working in health clinics, educating people about the dangers and supporting those who are ill.  Some of these measures are successful.” said Rev Siai, who is visiting the 13th Assembly in Australia and participating in leadership training hosted by UnitingWorld.

“But the fact remains that people still ignore the advice, behave irresponsibly with their bodies, do not seek treatment even when they know they are sick and deny that they are carriers of HIV.  Some don’t know they are carriers or are too shy to seek help.  We still do not have the answer as to how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in PNG.”

Rev Siai’s honesty and openness in discussing health concerns, isolation and lack of access to education, as well as his determination to tackle such issues during his term as Moderator of the Church came as part of his appeal for genuine partnership between the church in PNG and the UCA.

“Over many years, Christian brothers and sisters have developed with us a genuine friendship,” Rev Siai said.  “They have come to live among us- faithful women like Reverend Lu Piper, who has offered so much encouragement to us.  These are men and women who understand the concept of “life overflowing”.  Their involvement is not about simply ‘funding projects’- it’s not just a financial arrangement.  It’s a partnership, a relationship.”

Through relationship with the UCA, UnitingWorld and AUSAID, projects in PNG include the provision of people resources through volunteering, health clinics, water and sanitation, microfinance, teacher training, HIV/AIDS awareness and education projects.  For more information see http://www.unitingworld.org.au/programs/relief-and-development/relief-and-development-programs/pacific-projects/papua-new-guinea-church-partnership-program/