Peaceful Enga Now, Better PNG Tomorrow

MOH Ambassador: Peaceful Enga Now, Better PNG Tomorrow

Father Abraham (second from left) addressing the people in his community at Kanamanda, Wapenamanda District, Enga province.

Thursday 21 September 2023, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea || In commemorating the International Day of Peace, Men of Honour (MOH) Ambassador and Unsung Hero for Highlands Region Johannes Kundal calls on his fellow Engans to lay down their weapons and discuss peace. 

Mr. Kundal, a former public servant with the Health Department is the founder of a faith-based organisation called Friends of Mission and the Kanamanda Resource Centre that targets different vulnerable groups, which includes women, children, people with special needs, those living with HIV/AIDS, and the elderly. His passion and commitment in helping his people in Enga province awarded him the title Father Abraham, a name he is now addressed by. In May this year, he was recognised as the Highlands Region Unsung Hero for the MOH Awards season seven.

Like other provinces in Papua New Guinea, Enga is made up of many clans and tribes. But what sets Enga province apart from the rest, is the fact that all five districts are bonded by language, culture and traditional values. Tribal fights are not new in Enga, but in the past, disputes among warring tribes are handled with respect.

Father Abraham shared that the recent tribal fights in Wapenamanda District in Enga province has escalated into a guerilla warfare, affecting two thirds of the district’s population. This fight is connecting three existing fights, one in Tsak Valley and two in the Middle Lai involving 24 clans. ‘’This fight has claimed many lives, caused women and children to be displaced and homeless, disrupted livelihoods, and made many vulnerable groups to suffer more. Our children’s education is jeopardized due to these ongoing fights. It is a pity that the warring tribes have no value for their children’s future.’’  

‘’I have experienced tribal fights since my childhood. My father was killed in a tribal fight in1981, and I also lost my immediate family members in 2001 to tribal fights. There is no good outcome. Tribal fights only take every good thing and leaves you at a loss,’’ he added.

Unlike the past when spears, axes and bush knives were used, the recent tribal fights included the use of guns and ammunition, a more deadly and expensive exercise. Father Abraham stressed that the people in the rural villages are already struggling to support their families. Therefore, he strongly spoke out against those funding the purchase of guns and ammunition and asked them to stop. ‘’You are killing your own brothers and sisters.’’

Father Abraham is appealing to the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and the government to draw up a rehabilitation plan for Enga province and help rebuild the projects destroyed in the tribal fights. He also calls on his people in Enga to throw away their weapons and resolve disputes in a more civilized manner. ‘’Let’s throw away the guns and use our bush knives and axes to rebuild our houses, make our gardens, and work together for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our future. Before reacting to any situation, let’s ask ourselves, what kind of legacy do I want to leave for my children? Do I want my children to be refugees in their own land? If we continue to fight, we will leave our children with nothing.’’ He concluded, ‘’A peaceful Enga now, is a better PNG tomorrow.’’

Father Abraham continues to conduct radio awareness on Jesus FM and NBC Radio Enga, advocating for peace in his district and province. He will also be conducting community awareness in partnership with the local church groups and community leaders from his tribe Miok, as they remain neutral in this situation.