Wewak | Project Sepik | 17 June 2021
The Supreme Sukundimi Follow up Workshop: A Covid Safe Event
The Supreme Sukundimi Declaration follow up workshop was a one-week event that took place from 26 April to 2 May 2021. The event was held at Korogu village in the Wosera-Gawi District.
The workshop gathered an estimated 120 clan and spiritual leaders from 49 villages along the Sepik River to discuss the Frieda River Gold and Copper Mine issue.
The event was organised by Project Sepik, a Non-Government Organization (NGO) that advocates for locally led sustainable practices along the Sepik River and coordinates the ‘Save the Sepik’ campaign.
Due to the current Covid situation in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and across the globe, Project Sepik created a Covid protocol to ensure that no one’s health was compromised. The Project Sepik team put a lot of effort and thinking into getting Covid protocols in place and liaised with partner organisations and relevant local and international agencies.
The coronavirus protocol was a guideline for implementation and reporting on coronavirus preventive measures. The Protocol followed the strict guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the PNG Department of Health (PNG DoH) to ensure the safety of the participants and the people in the village. Project Sepik ensured that its activities were in line with and followed the PNG Government’s Pandemic Act.
Supported by its partners, Project Sepik acquired six temperature guns and 160 reusable face masks.
Project Sepik engaged several of its volunteers to implement the coronavirus protocol for the duration of the workshop. The volunteers carried out door to door awareness and distributed awareness materials like posters and pamphlets. The awareness materials were verified by WHO and PNG DoH.
The articipants of the workshop were provided with reusable facemasks. They were advised to put them on before, during and after the workshop. Regular temperature checks were made before and after the workshops. Anti-bacterial soap was provided for regular thorough hand wash. Face masks, hand wash and temperature checks were made mandatory at the workshop locations, the houses and the dining hall.
During the workshop, the participants were separated into groups of three to minimise the number of people gathered in the same location.
The participants complied with the measures and were happy to be part of the workshop. A participant said:
The virus is real, and people are dying. I’m here to attend the workshop to protect my home and family from the Frieda mine. But first, I must make it my business to protect myself from the virus and in turn protect my family, tribe and village.
He thanked Project Sepik putting the people’s safety first while facilitating the workshop.
The volunteers did a fantastic job with the implementation and reporting of the protocol. Project Sepik Coronavirus protocol officer Wolfgang Kambu stated that his job was important because he was dealing with people’s lives:
Gathering hundreds of people during this pandemic is risky. That is why the protocols are important. My team is doing a great job in getting the message across and making sure the people strictly follow the safety measures.
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird who was invited to officiate at the workshop’s closing ceremony, was impressed with the people following the Coronavirus preventive measures. He assured the people gathered that the virus was serious and that they need to take it seriously. He asked them to follow safety measures to protect themselves and their families.
Project Sepik coordinator Emmanuel Peni was incredibly pleased with the people and their attitude towards the protocols. He expressed his appreciation to the people and said ‘Even though some did not believe in the virus, they followed the protocols strictly.’
As in many other places around the world, PNG is also facing the challenge of misinformation about Covid being spread on social media. Project Sepik had a difficult task but managed to counter the misinformation and successfully implemented the Covid protocol.
Emmanuel also thanked the volunteers for doing an excellent job in demonstrating leadership by effectively carrying out awareness and implementing the Coronavirus protocols. ‘The workshop would not have been successful and Covid safe if it had not been for the cooperation and participation of all parties involved’ he said.
Project Sepik is in constant communication with the participants as part of its follow up protocol. This is to see if any of the participants are showing signs and symptoms of the virus. Project Sepik volunteers from Upper, Middle and Lower Sepik river have been engaged to check up on the participants after the two weeks incubation period and report on their conditions.