The friendship of these two little girls, Frida to the left and Yasmin to the right in both pictures, led to the idea of Buk bilong Pikinini.
The history behind the establishment of Buk bilong Pikinini
Buk bilong Pikinini receives numerous phone calls and emails every year from people who either live or have worked/lived in Papua New Guinea and who "want to do something". So how did we manage to do this? Is there a recipe or some guidelines that we may be able to offer?
By Anne-Sophie Hermann
Buk bilong Pikinini is a great example of people from all walks of life working together to achieve what Buk bilong Pikinini is currently able to provide for the children of Papua New Guinea. While I have not provided any guidelines for how to put a successful project together you may feel inspired to create your own project or choose to support Buk bilong Pikinini in its efforts to continue to provide high quality children's libraries across PNG.
When I first arrived in Papua New Guinea, I had just had a baby and finished my degree in International Relations at the ANU. As part of this degree I studied at the ANU School of Pacific Studies and was greatly fascinated with our readings and discussions about PNG - however once on the ground I felt totally unprepared for the the hardship of everyday life which is the reality for most Papua New Guineans. Women and children in particular seem to be totally disadvantaged. Having had a child who was a bookworm before she could walk I started enquiring about libraries and where good books could be found for children. What I learned shocked me into action.
When Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia in 1975, there were a number of fully functioning libraries across the country, book shops and a budding publishing industry. When my family arrived in Port Moresby in 2006, the National Library was under refurbishment thanks to an AusAID grant of 30 million dollars yet there were no public libraries and only one bookshop at the university. When I asked about books I learned that Rotary and other organisations have brought a large number of books to PNG but that they had not been used in the ailing public libraries. I therefore felt that the books needed to be not donated here and there as had previously been the case but made available to children within an organised framework.
As the wife of the Australian High Commissioner to PNG, I was fortunate to be part of many different groups and a great social network and met Anna Mujerkee, who was the wife of the then Unicef Country Representative to PNG. I mentioned my idea to Anna and that I had already started writing to publishers in Australia - Anna was straightaway interested and after extensive consultations and discussions with all our contacts in the community we held our first fundraising event. Anna had worked for a number of non government organisations in Africa, such as Save the Children and had great knowledge about getting organised to establish an organisation and we were gradually joined by other professional expatriate women who were just as passionate about the idea as ourselves.
The idea of establishing a library was clear but we had to find out where to put the first one, since the need is so great everywhere in the country. We decided to work on a scale of need and to put the library where we thought the children would most need it. The choice of establishing a library in a corner of the Children's HIV, Tuberculosis and Malnutrition ward was made possible by a most inspirational doctor by the name of John Vince - who was able to persuade the hospital administration that the library would be beneficial for doctors, nurses and patients alike.
To be continued ... more coming soon!
Former Executive Officers:
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Current Executive Officer
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