15 August, 2019

The They Are Not Alone (TANA) project started a few years ago, sparked by a lecture from Avondale’s Dr Brad Watson and spearheaded by one of the students who listened to the lecture, Linda Ciric. The initial campaign had two goals: to raise $100,000 through a partnership with ADRA Australia for family violence projects in Papua New Guinea, and to raise awareness of family violence in general.

The project ended in January 2019, but the ripples from it have since evolved and grown.

At the end of May, Agnes Kola, Women’s and Family Ministry director for the Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM), presented the South Pacific Strongim Femili Strongim Community Partnership proposal. This proposal aims to address gender-based violence in the South Pacific. The draft concept calls for an overall strategy to be developed and implemented over five years and suggests that the following is needed:

  1. Prepare policies and procedures relative to family and gender-based violence to help prevent the misuse of current policies and ensure that church leaders know how to respond to incidents of violence and abuse.
  2. Prepare an SDA contextualised “Theology of Gender” to establish a clear biblical base for living harmoniously, free from gender-based violence. Further, develop a manual with tools and resources contextualised for use in all countries in the Pacific.
  3. Develop college/school curricula and teaching resources on gender and positive relationships that will be incorporated into courses in training institutions as well as in Pathfinders and Sabbath School.
  4. Establish survivor support by providing safe places in strategic locations and ensuring counselling skill development.
  5. Educate union, mission and church leadership so they become role models, advocates and champions, to be living examples of love and respect to those of the opposite gender.
  6. Continuously engage in research to gain deeper understanding of the issues in various contexts to identify what approaches are most effective.

Furthermore, the aim is to expand this work to Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.

This is an important but enormous amount of work that needs to be done. We cannot do it alone. We need to join forces with other faith communities and government organisations. When we have strong families, we will have strong communities and strong churches.

Please pray that hearts will be moved to put this proposal into action. Please pray for those who are trailblazing in this area, such as Agnes Kola, Benjamin Asa, Nasoni Lutunaliwa and many others.

To read more about the TANA project check the following pages:
https://www.adra.org.au/project/they-are-not-alone/; https://www.adra.org.au/they-are-not-alone/

This piece was originally published in the August edition of Going Places.
Words: Danijela Schubert