‘I matter’: giving unemployed young Papua New Guineans a second chance

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Young people account for almost half of Papua New Guinea’s population and comprise a large part of the urban poor. In the capital, Port Moresby, an increasing number of young people are leaving school without the necessary skills for entry-level jobs.

The Urban Youth Employment Project (UYEP) provides disadvantaged young people (aged between 16 and 35) in Port Moresby with life skills and employment training to increase their chances of finding long-term employment, also the motivation to make a fresh start in life. To help meet immediate economic needs, the project is also providing temporary employment opportunities.

Since the project started in 2011, over 8,000 unemployed young people in Port Moresby have been helped by the project, 40% of them young women.

The project has been extended until 2018 through funding from the Australian government, with the goal of reaching at least 15,000 people.

The World Bank in Sydney, Australia recently partnered with the team from Humans of Papua New Guinea (an offshoot of the globally-popular photo blog, Humans of New York) to tell the stories of a number of UYEP participants. Here are some of these stories.

Raymond Papeh

Image“A week ago some policemen stopped me. As a former street vendor selling betelnut on the streets, it’s nothing new to have run-ins with the police. Sometimes even if we are not selling, they randomly stop us to check we are not secretly selling betelnut on the streets.
This time however it was different. Before they could frisk me, they took one look at my UYEP identification card and let me go without so much as a question. That made me realize that the UYEP program has gained respect in a lot of other circles. That is encouragement enough for me to continue in this program.”
What other direct benefits have you seen for yourself?
“As soon as I enrolled, I was given a mobile phone and was assisted with opening my own bank account. I had never in my lifetime known what it feels like to press those buttons in the ATMs and to use a bankcard. That act alone makes me feel like I am more a part of society then I was before. That I matter.”


Lawrence Kerry

Image“I am tired of doing street vending and getting chased down by the police all the time. That is why I was keen to join this program. I want to get a proper paying job. The only way I [will] achieve that is if I get a trade certificate through the pre-employment course trainings offered through this program.”
“What have you learned through the program?”

“I have learnt about the value of teamwork. About working with people of completely different backgrounds and characters; [that] they may think and do things very different from you. To get a job done, you have to work with them. If you don’t, then you have a problem.”Since this interview, Lawrence has been promoted to become a team supervisor. See more of Lawrence’s story in this video:

Papua New Guinea: Urban Youth Take Steps to Reach Their Dreams

Sadex James

ImageWhat has the program done for you?
“It has changed my life. If not for this program I don’t know where I would be. I had no formal qualification. After finishing Grade 10, I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. Now I have a regular paying job. ”
Is there a memorable moment in your time with the program?
“I had just completed my UYEP and was awaiting my pre-employment training acceptance letter. The contractor who was overseeing the next batch of participants needed a supervisor and so asked me if I was interested since I knew the program. I was happy to join.
At the end of two weeks he paid me. It was a small yellow envelope. My heart was pounding with excitement because this was my very first pay parcel. I didn’t open the envelope. I kept it in my pocket and went home and locked myself in my room. Then I slowly opened the envelope and counted out the money. It was K300 (USD100). It was the best feeling ever. I think I must have counted that money over and over for a few more times. I gave K200 (USD65) to my mother to buy food for the house and kept the rest for myself. It felt good doing that too.”


Kandiye Yamba

ImageThrough UYEP, Kandiye Yamba participated in a job placement at Papua Niugini Freezers, a local refrigeration company. Through her hard work and commitment, Kandiye was taken on as a full-time employee. See more of Kandiye’s story in this video:


Papua New Guinea: A New Life for Urban Youth
“I still keep my UYEP identification card with me. I always tell my children about the UYEP program, and I will tell my grandchildren about it. Every time I see the UYEP logo, it fills me with joy. If I pass by youths working by the roadside I always wave or chat with them. I almost feel like we are in one family. 
This program gave me my life back. My husband had married a new wife and took all our 5 kids with him. All our family members pretty much treated me like an outcast. I had only a Grade 10 Certificate and could not get a decent job to support myself. This took its toll on my health. I experienced frequent bouts of anxiety attacks and high blood pressure. It was terrible. That was when I heard that UYEP was doing an enrolment drive nearby. I had to almost crawl to the location where the enrolment was being conducted.
Once I was in, I gave my all and it has not let me down one bit. That is why when I see the UYEP logo, I am always reminded that my life was saved through this wonderful program.”

To read more stories of UYEP participants, visit Facebook photo gallery

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