My name is Ian Volke, and I'm the regional manager for our projects in Papua New Guinea, primarily involved in our 'on the ground' activities. A core function of Partner Housing Australasia (PHA) is to assist in the provision of housing, school classrooms, community buildings and other infrastructure in a number of countries in the Asia Pacific Region.
I want to say that after seeing first hand all the work that the PHA Board members continuously undertake, I consider it a great privilege and honour to work at the "coal face" end of the process, assisting the local PNG people and seeing first hand the direct result of all the background activities.
Currently my job is to supervise construction, and train and generally assist the local people in PNG, through our partnership with Vision For Homes (VFH). The work can relate to anything from providing verbal and/or email assistance and sketches etc. from Australia, to 'hands on' activities during regular visits to PNG within the local communities, or in the VFH fabrication compounds (one in Mount Hagen and one in Port Moresby).
In addition I oversee VFH account keeping, project costings and the approval of PHA expenditure to VFH. An important part of our work is ensuring our partners are compliant with governance matters relating to compliance with requirements of the Australian Council For International Development.
For me it is a real joy to meet and work with the local PNG people and assist in what they are doing for their own people. I regularly work very closely with a number of people, and two key people are Kelly and Paulus. These two work so hard for their local communities in all of their building activities. Together we have developed a close and very positive working relationship and it is wonderful to be able to assist them. I know that Kelly and Paulus are very grateful for the assistance that PHA provides, plus the actual on-site training and development, as this enables them to carry on the work for themselves into the future.
When working with local PNG people it is a very encouraging and guiding environment. They are incredibly hard working, and they want to achieve the end goal and 'get it right'. When I see a building come together in PNG, and actually witness the guys' faces, they are really happy and so pleased to have achieved what they set out to undertake. I really believe that builders in Australia could learn something from the VFH attitude and philosophy!