Fifteen year old Magaret Oala is one of many children living in Hanuabada, a traditional Motuan village a few minutes north-west of downtown Port Moresby in the National Capital District of Papua New Guinea. The peri-urban village has an estimated population of 18,000 people (2011 Census), and growing.
Margaret Oala standing on the boardwalk in front of her home at Hanuabada. Photo: Tommy Maima/World Vision
Magarets’ parents are both Motuan and are locals from Hanuabada Village; Magaret is the 4th born out of five siblings. All of her family members including her parents, brother and sisters were born and raised at Hanuabada.
“I love my village. It is such a good place to hang around with my family and friends. People are respectful around here and I feel safe. We have many relatives here and my family is very supportive for us children to have a good education,” says Magaret.
“Since our house is built on the seaside, I love to swim with my friends. However, the sea near the village is polluted with rubbish and waste from within the village and the tide brings rubbish from Port Moresby here,” says Magaret.
“We don’t have a good spot for swimming anymore because of the pollution. Therefore, whenever we go out there to swim, we try to remove rubbish as we move further out to find clean water for swimming. It is quite disappointing for us children to become used to the pollution of waste in our sea,” added Margaret.
Approximately one third of the population live in stilt houses built over the sea. There are no sanitation services and raw sewage is discharged directly into the estuary, posing grave threat to health. Many households do not have access to piped water at home and there is widespread water leakage.
Children surrounded by piles of rubbish which poses risks to their health everyday. Photo: New Zealand Herald
“Since there is too much pollution, many children become sick while swimming in the sea. The waste produces bad smell and it is difficult to breathe fresh air at times. I hope one day our village and our sea area will be free from pollution for future children to grow healthy and have a clean environment to call home.”
Children love to swim and play in the portion of sea around their village and homes. Photo: Tommy Maima/World Vision
Her passion for humanity and social issues has been part of her motivation to make a difference in the community, taking part in one of the major clean-up campaign at her village initiated by World Vision.
She has now joined World Vision as a community volunteer for the clean-up campaign at Hanuabada, taking part in two cleanup activities at the village recently and looking forward for more engagements to ensure Hanuabada is clean and healthier for herself and other children to live in.
Villagers cleaning up blocked drains as part of a major clean-up activity. Photo: Tommy Maima/World Vision
With support from the New Zealand Government, World Vision, through the Hanuabada Water and Health Life Project, aims to improve the health of people in Hanuabada, over a four year period by increaseing access to safe drinking water and improving hygiene and sanitation behavior. Anchored on the government's Healthy Island Concept, World Vision will improve solid waste management, connect households to reliable, cost-recovered safe water, drive hygiene behaviour change within households and schools, and facilitate stakeholders to develop a feasible, costed proposal to connect the community to the Port Moresby’s sewer system.
Magaret is currently in Grade 9 at Marinville Secondary school in the outskirts of Port Moresby and aims to become a human rights lawyer when she grows up.
Magaret is determined to contribute in the fight for a brighter future and cleaner environment for the future.