Wok Meri Trening Skuls

Wok Meri Trening Skuls (WMTS) in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have been established up by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea (ELCPNG) to empower women to become strong Christian leaders in their communities. There are four schools in the PNG which have been set up on old mission stations. Baitabag, is a short way out of Madang, set on the top end of Baitabag Lutheran High School. Steng is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Lae – the time depends on the condition of the road! Gatop and Sattelburg are in the Finschhafen area.

The full training course is carried out over a two-year period. Some of the subjects studied include: Theology, Bible Study, Sunday School Teaching, Literacy, Numeracy, Small Business and Money Management, Counselling, Personal Development, Health and Hygiene, Nutrition and Cooking, First Aid, Agriculture, Sewing (which includes embroidery and handcrafts) and Music. The course also provides practical experience for the students in villages during each year of their course.

There are four teachers at each of the schools and they share the teaching load. The teachers are trained at the ELCPNG Banz Bible College in the Highlands. This teacher training is for three years. These teachers are very dedicated to their work, giving up so much including the opportunity of marrying and having a family. They give their lives to serving their Lord in these teaching roles in order to build up the women and families in PNG.

The students at the Meri Wok Trening Skuls range in age from around 20 years – 35years. Some come by their own choice and are sponsored by family. Others are chosen by their congregations, circuits or districts because they show strong leadership in the village. Most of them have had limited education with only a few attaining Grade 10 level in high school. Therefore all classes are in PNG Pigin. These young students are very dedicated women, keen to help families in their villages to have better, healthier lives.

The students of the Meri Wok Trening Skuls live in dormitories at the school. They cook for themselves, maintain the gardens and keep the school clean and tidy. The school fees are K500 a year (approximately $250AUD). A number of women drop out after the first year because they are unable to raise the funds or they find the study difficult. They have to raise these fees themselves or have the support from family or their congregation. Circuits and/or districts are supposed to put in K2000 a year to assist with running costs/budget but this doesn’t always happen.

There are very few resources available to the teachers and the students. They do an amazing job with the little they have available. New curriculum books for both teachers and students (a type of workbook) have been developed and printed in English. Some money from the LWA Wok Meri Trening Skul project has been used to fund the printing of this new sybllabus as AusAid money cannot be used for church subjects. A new Handbook about Wok Meri Trening Skuls has been printed, again with some of the LWA project money.

In order to fund the running costs of the schools, the teachers and students sew items of clothing, embroider church symbols on pastors’ stoles and altar cloths. They also sell garden produce. Funds for major items mostly come from donations from overseas partner churches.

In our recent visit we were fortunate to be able to visit Steng and Baitabag and see for ourselves the dedication of both the teachers and students.

One pastor said to us, “The women are the backbone and the heart of the church. So these schools are very important to the spread of the Gospel in PNG and the work of ELCPNG in general.”

These schools make a very big contribution to improving the lifestyle of people in the villages which hopefully will spread to the towns as well. Therefore it is important that this training of women is given all the help that is possible, both from within ELCPNG and overseas partner churches.

How can you get involved?

These schools need to upgrade the teaching of English. This needs to happen at both the teacher level as well as the students. Would you like to volunteer to teach English for s short term visit?

New hand sewing machines need to be purchased. Five machines for a class of 20 women is not enough.

Many of the communities in PNG are struggling as abuse, HIV/AIDS and other bad influences are infiltrating into the villages. The Wok Meri Trening Schools in PNG are so important to the life in and ministry in PNG and are a very worthwhile project for LWA. Your support is vital.

Please keep these women in PNG in your prayers.

Many of our partner churches are working in new territory for the kingdom of God; therefore, spiritual attack is their everyday reality. As a member of a congregation, school, or family, or a couple or individual, you are invited to commit to praying for our partners in mission. For regular prayer point updates, go to www.lca.org.au/international-mission/act-now/pray

Read more stories about our partner church in Papua New Guinea at http://www.lcamission.org.au/category/stories/international-partners/papua-new-guinea/