Hon. Julie Bishop opens Tatana Island library

On Friday the 9th of May Buk bilong Pikinini opened a library with sponsorship from across the globe. This library marked the 15th library opening in Papua New Guinea and was officially opened by the Australian Foreign Minister Hon. Julie Bishop, Mahesh Patel of CPL and Community leaders.

The library at Tatana Island sits on a beautiful hilltop with a view across the sea and is a traditional Port Moresby fishing village. The land for the library has been generously made available by the Tatana Araira Church. The children have already started to come to their new library to enjoy literacy sessions and the many books available. 

The building has been built with a donation from the Swiss Embassy in Canberra and the funding to maintain the library is provided by Mahesh Patel, OBE, of City Pharmacy Limited, Australian Aid and long-term Buk bilong Pikinini donors. 

Hon. Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister of Australia said: “Today I am delighted to open a library near Port Moresby that, with Australia’s support, will help to improve children’s literacy and boost life opportunities in PNG.

The Buk bilong Pikinini – Books for Children – libraries provide age-appropriate reading material to children and their parents, and offer early childhood development and literacy programs, including for the parents of children attending.

More than any other skill, reading gives people the ability to learn, participate in formal education and teach themselves. It is the key to self-empowerment and economic independence.”

Mahesh Patel, OBE, of CPL said: “I have decided to donate my fees from my board chairman of Telikom PNG role to Buk bilong Pikinini to pay for the running costs at the Tatana Island library. I believe that the young children in the village will benefit from this library and I hope that our donation to the to the operations of the library will help improve and make a positive change in the in the lives of the children and the community as a whole.”

Founder of Buk bilong Pikinini, Anne-Sophie Hermann said: “This library represents an amazing collaboration between international corporate donors, an embassy, the Australian Government and a local fishing village. It is wonderful that so many people have come together to support the Tatana Island community Buk bilong Pikinini library to provide valuable learning opportunities for the children there. Buk bilong Pikinini is humbled by the support we currently receive from corporate donors as well as the Australian and PNG Government and believe that literacy is key to unlocking the cycle of poverty that the children and their families find themselves in. Australian Public/ and PNG Private partnerships has been a real vector of growth for Buk bilong Pikinini. ”

The Swiss Ambassador to Australia, H.E. Marcel Stutz said: “Fostering education and promoting literacy is one of the priorities of Swiss Development Cooperation worldwide. The Embassy of Switzerland is therefore delighted to have supported a project for the construction of a school library on Tatana Island.

I had the great pleasure to visit a library of Buk bilong Pikinini during my official visit to PNG in September last year. I was very much impressed by the great reading skills of the young children and by their enthusiasm to learn.

On the occasion of the opening of the “Swiss” library on Tatana Island, I would like to thank Buk bilong Pikinini and especially Anne-Sophie Hermann for her relentless efforts to realize this project. I wish the Tatana education team great success in bringing the world closer to the young generation of PNG.”

Luke Ebbs, Executive Officer of Buk bilong Pikinini said. “15 libraries is an incredible achievement, made possible through partnerships. We hope that these partnerships continue to prosper so that every town, village and community in PNG has access to the joy and wonder that can only be accessed through good books.”



Beautiful books

Buk bilong Pikinini would like to thank Harper Collins, Hachette, Allen & Unwin and Penguin for the donation of lovely new children's books. Many of the donated books are written and illustrated by Alison Lester and will be used for our upcoming Authors' Seminar in May.

All the donated books are beautiful Australian books, which will be greatly appreciated by the children coming to Buk bilong Pikinini libraries and will hopefully also inspire Papua New Guineans to start writing stories for children! Thank you also to Alison Lester for organising these donations.

PNG Authors' Seminar

Buk bilong Pikinini promotes writing for children in Papua New Guinea.

In order to encourage Papua New Guineans to put pen to paper to share their wonderful stories, Buk bilong Pikinini held an Authors’ Seminar from the 5-7th of May 2014 and has sponsored a children’s writing category within the 2014 Crocodile Awards. Papua New Guinea is a country with a remarkable story-telling tradition, yet hardly any children’s books are being written and published by local authors. 

Over 70 participants gathered at the lovely Paddy's hotel in Port Moresby on the 5-7th of May to attend the Authors’ Seminar. Award winning children’s books Author and Illustrator Alison Lester shared her amazing talent for illustrating and painting - which was greatly enjoyed by all and resulted in the production of a PNG ABC book! Great discussions took place about the importance of children's books, story telling and publishing. The authors were given an opportunity to read their material to children at our Koki markets library. The seminar was bursting with energy and motivation thanks to the great contributions from Andrew Kelly from Wilddog publishing, Amanda Donigi of Stella Magazine, Author Drusilla Modeska, Steven Winduo of UPNG and Russell Jackson of Birdwing Publishing. All the participants were presented with a Certificate of Participation at the end of the seminar and are all looking forward to another seminar next year. 

Buk bilong Pikinini wishes to be able to stock its library shelves with books written and illustrated by Papua New Guineans, to inspire the children, coming to our libraries, to want to pick up books that relate to their lives and tell stories based on their own cultural heritage. Many children in urban settlements currently miss out on valuable life stories traditionally told by their Bubus or village elders. These stories constitute an important ingredient in creating a cultural identity. We hope to have inspired all our participants to get their stories written - the deadline for submissions for the Crocodile Awards is the 30th. of June! We cannot wait to see what you can come up with. See our Facebook page for more pictures.



New agreement signed with UN women, NCDC and BSP

Buk bilong Pikinini and the Bank of South Pacific to build Libraries through the United Nation's Safe Cities Project

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed to enable the establishment of two libraries under the Safe Cities Project. Representatives from Bank South Pacific (BSP) together with United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), National Capital District Commission (NCDC), and Buk Bilong Pikinini (BbP) signed the MOU on the 27th of March. 

BSP Group Chief Executive Officer Robin Fleming said the bank’s decision to support is simple - to help improve literacy rates in PNG by developing a culture of reading from early childhood. 

 “BbP has embarked on a noble plan to establish libraries and learning centres regionally to promote and encourage the passion to read. BSP is privileged to partner with BbP to promote education among children, and ultimately play a part in improving access to education in PNG, because like BbP our focus is on the children and youth of our country. This partnership is a long term commitment by BSP to ensure that our children harness the necessary skill of reading as part of their development as the future leaders of PNG. Our children are our future and we must give them hope, health and opportunities,” he said. 

 "However, sadly most public libraries have shut down and literacy rates have been on the decline, but there there is hope, as BbP an independent charity organisation has moved to change this, embarking on setting up libraries to promote and assist children in finding the passion to read,"he added.

Under the MOU, the two libraries will be located at Gerehu and Gordons markets, which are generally known to be very unsafe areas.

Buk bilong Pikinini is looking forward to working with UN team, the National Capital District and the Bank of South Pacific to establish libraries in locations which are now made safe for women and girls. According to UN research it is very important to create these safe areas as "over half of women market vendors in PNG have to bring their children to the market as many of the children do not attend school. Women in PNG suffer disproportionately from poverty an experience major barriers to participation in their communities due to low levels of literacy and education, high incidence of domestic violence and poorer access to health services."

It has always been Buk bilong Pikinini's goal to serve the most vulnerable children in Papua New Guinea and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to do so in partnership with BSP, NCDC and the UN.