Twenty West Papuan refugees were awarded education scholarships through the Caritas PNG Humanitarian aid programme in partnership with Don Bosco Technical School.
The recipients were the first to receive the support when the scholarship was launched at a seminar on Friday at the Catholic Bishops Conference in Port Moresby.
The scholarships will allow these students to attend short courses that run for four months annually giving them the opportunity to attain a basic certificate in computing, administration, electronics and motor mechanics at Don Bosco Technical School (DBTS), Gabutu.
DBTS deputy principal for technical affairs Kenneth Gonzales said the programme was special as it gave the opportunity to disadvantaged young men and women who had left their homeland to come and live in Papua New Guinea.
Gonzales said the mission’s theme for the year was “They welcomed angels” which the scholarship depicted.
“In keeping with the theme we are happy to welcome the West Papuan refugees and offer them the possibility of being educated at DBTS, Gabutu,” he said.
“The programme will develop their skills, and most importantly help them find a job.”
The seminar’s facilitator and Catholic Bishop Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands secretary for development Marie Mondu emphasised the need for empowerment and a sense of purpose for refugees.
Mondu said refugees in PNG needed help, particularly those from West Papua.
She said the programme would provide them with the necessary tools and opportunity to rebuild their lives.
A representative from 9-Mile West Papua community, Hans Wonsiwor, said the scholarship meant a great deal to his people.
“I’m proud of the partnership between Caritas PNG and DBTS and thank them for providing this wonderful scholarship programme to assist the West Papuan community,” he said. “My presence here today is to express my gratitude toward the programme.”
Scholarship awardee Thomas Wangai, who would study metal fabrication and welding at DBTS, was grateful for the opportunity.
Wangai said he had faced hardship in education and the scholarship was appreciated.
“I am honoured to receive this scholarship,” he said.
“I faced many negative situations but I never lost faith, I am grateful to God that he has heard my prayer.” The National