Recently Partner Housing was delighted to welcome Kelly Kombra Peng from Vision for Homes (VFH), our partner organisation in PNG, for a visit to Sydney to spend time with key Partner Housing members and take part in important workplace training and skill building.
Kelly shares his account of his visit and learnings over the two weeks.
I was there (in Sydney) for two weeks in November 2023. My trip was awesome! It was both enjoyable and educational. Enjoyable in a sense that I was taken out on sightseeing tours by Rod Johnston, Ian Volke and David Kaunitz to some of the beautiful and interesting places in NSW (Sydney and Canberra). The notable and memorable sites I saw around Sydney were the edge of the land at Terrigal north of Sydney, looking out to the blue horizon towards the direction facing New Zealand. I was driven across Sydney Harbour Bridge on a Saturday to another famous tourist destination by David - Bondi Beach. This was a completely different environment and lifestyle where multitudes from all walks of life would be with their beach wear enjoying sea breeze - walking, swimming and playing different sports on a cool sunny day. Rod and I made several walks up the nearby hills and along the seaside at Woy Woy before and after training sessions. We had coffee on Tuesdays with couple of young gentlemen all imaginably over 70 years at the RSL club in Patonga for an hour joking away. One of them would start off with a story and others would join in to keep the hour refreshing for a while and then call it a day to continue their routines. Wednesday 15th was a busy day for us at Hornsby. Most of the Partner Housing board, the President, Rod Johnston and myself were in UNICEF training. We spent the whole day doing UNICEF child protection training. This was the special day which I had the privilege to meeting most of the PHA Board in the likes of Jenny Turner, Arthur Gray, Bruce Hutchison and Alison Scotland.
On Thursday, November 16 was another memorable trip out to Canberra. Rod, Robyn Johnston and myself left Woy Woy at 7am for Canberra to visit Julienne McKay and David Campbell. That was another 5 solid hours’ drive, and Rod made it his business to keep us awake along the Canberra/Sydney highway until we finally arrived at Canberra at around 12:30pm with only two short stops along the way for refill, lunch and tea.
In Canberra, we were warmly welcomed by Julienne and David for a coffee and then lunch in their apartment unit at the 14th floor of the 16-storey building. After lunch, we were taken out for a walk around the Canberra lakes. First, I thought it was a natural lake but then to my surprise, Julienne told me that this was a manmade lake and gave a brief history of an American couple who did the architectural design and won the competition of the new look Canberra as the capital city of Australia. We walked around the lake covering a little over 7km and ended the day. We spent the night with Julienne and David in their unit. The next day was Friday 17, 2023. We had breakfast and then decided for the day’s trip around Canberra and then head back to Sydney. Rod and Robyn decided to take me to the Parliament House so that I could see the Australian Parliament House, and that was in fact my wish too. We left Julienne and David with goodbyes to carry on with their routine and we drove towards Parliament House.
A few metres drive before reaching parliament, as we head towards a roundabout, surprisingly my eyes could reach a glimpse of a familiar red, black and gold object moving between the trees from a distance on my left. Immediately, I called out to Rod that I think I could see the PNG flag and that must be where the PNG embassy is. Then Rod turned back at the next roundabout and drove into where the flag was. There we could locate the PNG embassy building in Canberra with the flagpole right before the entrance. The design of the building was no different to the PNG parliament building design called the "Haus Tambaran" or the spirits house, a traditional building design of the people of Sepik province of PNG where the late former prime minister and father of the nation, Sir Michael Thomas Somare hails from. The flag was right in front of the embassy. I was so impressed to see the building and recalled fresh memories back to PNG. This was a unique PNG local design stationed on a foreign soil that stands a memorable experience for any PNG visitor. Couple of shots and then we made it to the Parliament House. This was an extremely extraordinary place to visit. It was amazing to see parliament chambers. I didn't reveal my thoughts on this particular visit to Rod and Robyn but kept to myself with a wa- oh. What a place to be and to see with my own naked eyes, the parliament of Australia. There, we could literally observe the federal meeting or rather parliament session debating on the agenda on the rights of people with disabilities.
A few shots and finally left parliament, walked out the stairs towards the car park at the ground floor and drove back to Sydney leaving the beautiful capital of Australia, its quiet atmosphere with scenic of mostly ornamental plants. As we drove across the bridge overlooking the lake, one could see from its adjacent views stand the two iconic buildings, the Museum on the left and the National Library of Australia on the right.
We left Canberra and finally arrived Woy Woy at 6:20pm. I had to take a nap for a while until 7pm and woke up for dinner then...
I also had the privileged of meeting Tai Ring Teh, the senior trainer who possesses the wider experience of working with most reputable humanitarian organisations such as UNICEF, UNDP, ICRC and others. Rod and I went to his house and we held an informal type of training on how these organizations do assessment and screening of applications/proposals etc. Three days later, Tai also came down to Woy Woy and we went through more formal training on the approaches usually taken by DFAT/UNICEF to screen project proposals and explained to us how this is read by grant makers. After this particular training, Tai left us and went home. The other training days were covered with others as mentioned above.
The most important part of my trip was the training aspect of it. I learnt by doing training online and was able to be certified after completion. I now understand the basics behind UNICEF's Child Protection policy and why this is important in the workplace. The other important outcome of my visit was the renewal of the MoU between the two organisations PHA & VFH.
I took fond memories back on my trip including experiences and few lessons learnt not only during training but sightseeing tours as well.
Kelly in training with PHA board directors, and visiting Canberra