PNG archdiocese tackles growing homeless children problem

The Catholic Church in Mt Hagen archdiocese in Papua New Guinea is responding to an increasing number of homeless children in the area.

A “think tank” was held recently to look at the nature and extent of the problem and how the Church might respond.

Archbishop Douglas Young of Mt Hagen told Radio Australia International that the scale of the problem hasn’t been fully identified.

But the archbishop said there are 100 children “on our books”, who “AIDs orphans of some type”.

“Some are being cared for by older relatives or grandparents; some are living in an independent household,” he said.

Local women have been taking in children they consider to be abandoned.

One woman is looking after 14 children and another 20, the archbishop said.

The church is looking at ways it can help them and the girls.

A religious sister is running a care centre for vulnerable young girls.

Archbishop Young said there appears to be a variety of reasons for the homeless children issue including rapid social change and the breakdown of traditional values.

The Mt Hagen archdiocese was alerted to the problem when a girl was rescued after being tortured as a witch.

Her parents were killed in the same way, and all her siblings scattered, so she was “completely vulnerable”, Archbishop Young said.

She was eventually accepted into care by religious sisters, but the archdiocese realised it had no system or structure to handle something like this.

But support from government to address the problem is very sparse, Archbishop Young said.

“It does fall back on churches and individuals.”

But Archbishop Young said that as a nation, Papua New Guinea can do much better.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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