PSA Tutors Reflect on Serving the Community

Tutors of the Preparation for Social Action programme gathered together in Lae in Morobe Province of Papua New Guinea for another instalment in the ongoing training purpose they are taking part in. During these training events the tutors progress in their study of a challenging curriculum which covers a broad range of topics which are relevant to the daily lives of students from rural communities and which builds capabilities crucial to their ability to affect social change where they live.

One text which many if the tutors had been working with over the past 6 months is Environmental Issues which helps the students develop the ability to conduct research in to the plight of the environment of their microregion, to raise awareness about the issues and provide viable solutions to some preventable problems that become rife in communities unaware of alternative ideas. The tutors were able to share some of the experiences they had conducting the service projects which resulted from the study of this book.

One group in Kotale village utilised the tool of conversation to raise awareness about what to do with solid waste. After conducting research into the habits of households in the village they enjoined community members in discussions about the waste being left over from activities and by demonstrating how to dig refuse pits to dispose of their rubbish in a more environmentally friendly way, many community members felt compelled to doing their bit to keeping their community clean. The group also approached an oil camp site and had a productive discourse with the workers about how they too could care for the environment. The camp manager was so impressed with the students that he stated how impressed he was with the programme they were studying and that the camp site would like to join the students in their efforts.

Raising awareness is a central theme of the book Environmental Issues and the tutors uphold the belief that by engaging individuals and families in conversations about the environment and by educating them with the facts it empowers them to make positive choices about how to reduce the impact of their own activities. One tutor reported that the purpose of these conversations with the community is to "...raise awareness to bring about positive change and positively show people as sincere, imaginative, creative and willing to make the effort to improve the community."

In Daga, Milne Bay Province of Papua New Guinea, economic activity does not play a factor in daily life due to the extreme remoteness. Though not facing the same challenges as other communities with solid waste from store bought goods the tutors found ways to contribute to the welfare of the ecosystem in the places they inhabit. The PSA groups decided that they would promote the idea of reforestation in areas where the communities had relied upon timber for building and other uses. One group planted 80 young trees as a commitment to helping maintain the health of the rainforest surrounding their village.

Other acts of services that PSA groups were inspired to provide for their community included supporting families with the funeral of loved ones, beautification of villages by planting gardens, raising awareness about malaria prevention and being involved in the spiritual education of the community in children's classes and other activities for youth and the adult population.