Mon 21st Sept 2009
Poverty is here: Stop the denial game!
FOR a long time there has been a game of denial in our highest levels of government.
This game is, basically, to deny that we have Papua New Guineans living in a state of poverty in the year 2009, 34 years after we attained independence.
If you look at the report on page 6 of todays Post-Courier, you will see evidence that there is poverty among some of our people.
We are not saying it is a condition that afflicts a majority of the people, or even a large number, but we do say that it exists and it affects a growing number of our people. Many will deny this, saying that every manm, woman and child within Papua New Guinea has an extended family network to live within, that they have rights to grow food on communal or clan land and can support themselves with such assets.
Once upon a time, in the good old days of colonial and pre-colonial existence, we may have been able to claim that attainment of independence in lifestyle. Nowadays, we can no longer claim 100 per coverage with that claim. You would have to be blind, if living in Port Moresby at least, to hold to the belief that there is no poverty here.
Our report makes it plain, that there are people who do not know their mother or fathers place of origin. They do not have those clan and extended family networks to rely on. They are in the streets, relying on begging or stealing to survive. They are a generation of young people who are staring at a gloomy future, a life of scrambling to make a living in any way they can.
The chances are, they will be joined by a growing number of people similarly blighted by this upbringing without the traditional PNG backup system to help them. There are people trying to help them. They are church workers and those with non-government groups, small numbers of teachers and health officers who can see the human disaster in front of them. If we are to avoid a growing social disaster amid the high-rise office blocks, the garish nightclubs and the exclusive Touaguba mansions, our leaders of government and business will have to recognise this state of affairs. They have to get out of the denial game and realise that, whether it is a shame to our national conscience or not, there is a problem and it has to be confronted, not tucked away out of sight.