Planting the seeds for a better future

Published 9:00am 23 February 2024

Planting the seeds for a better future
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A remote village in Papua New Guinea surrounded by mangrove swamps has received a helping hand to build raised garden beds thanks to members from Soroptimist International Moreton North Inc (SIMNI).

More than 120 raised garden beds made from old canoes were built in Darapap Village as part of the Murik Lakes Seeds of Friendship Community Garden Project.

The project was funded by SIMNI and spearheaded by SIMNI member Kylian MJ Kenni, who lives in PNG with her partner.

SIMNI President Fiona Cullen says the garden beds will ensure villagers have access to fresh and sustainable food options.

“This area faces an uncertain future as climate change raises sea levels, bringing with it increased inland water salinity and loss of marine life,” Fiona says.

“This has a direct impact on women who are responsible for food security and water supply for their families.”

Kylian, a mechanical engineer and her partner Ela Sapak, an environmental health safety specialist, enlisted the villagers to help build the garden beds.

“Ela and I transported the soil and seedlings from Port Moresby and taught the villagers how to plant the seeds and care for the gardens,” Kylian says.

Each family in the village has their own raised garden bed which will provide them fresh food. The surplus will be taken to the market to supplement their income.

“This is 14 hours of paddling a canoe through crocodile infested waters and bandits who pilfer their goods,” Kylian says.

“We need funds to purchase a motor for the canoe which will reduce the travel time down to seven hours during daylight hours.

“Now that we have established the gardens for Darapap Village, our goal is to duplicate this with all the other villages in Murik Lakes, so they are proudly self-sustaining.”

A My Cause page has been set up for anyone who would like to donate to the project. So far $1800 has been raised.

To see more photos, click through the gallery below.

Join SIMNI’s International Women’s Day celebrations

SIMNI will host its annual Be Inspired Forum on Sunday, March 3 at the North Lakes Hotel.

Now in its 11th year, the event is held every year in March to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Kylian will be the guest speaker at this year’s event and will talk about the Murik Lakes Seeds of Friendship Community Garden Project.

“At our upcoming SIMNI event for International Women’s Day 2024, we will celebrate the achievements of key members in our community, while also highlighting major projects we’ve undertaken throughout this past year,” Fiona says.

“This year we take special pride in highlighting the Murik Lakes Seeds of Friendship Community Garden Project.”

SIMNI President Elect Kassandra Behrendt says this year’s theme is a powerful one.

“The United Nations theme for IWD 2024 is “Count Her In” to accelerate gender equality through economic empowerment,” Kassandra says.

“At SIMNI we believe that empowering women to affect change in their own community is vital.

“Instead of jumping in to ‘save them’ we are empowering them to empower themselves.

“The Murik Lakes Seeds of Friendship Community Garden Project clearly demonstrates that when we empower women to empower themselves, not only will they achieve economic stability but a sense of belonging, ownership, inclusion and self-determination.”

The event will also be an opportunity for other like-minded people to gather and learn more about SIMNI’s mentoring program.

Tickets are $45 per person and can be purchased online, direct from the hotel, or by emailing SIMNI President Elect Kassandra Behrendt at [email protected].

There will also be raffles and lucky door prizes drawn on the day.


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