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Livelihoods improvement program bringing positive change to communities

ExxonMobil PNG’s Community Livelihood Improvement Program (CLIP) is helping to change mindsets, where local men are recognising the achievements of the 3 Ways Women’s Group, who are located near the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant in Hela Province.

The CLIP team first engaged the 3 Way Women’s Group to show the group a new farming technique to improve yields. As part of the training, CLIP also helped the women plant a variety of crops ranging from sweet potatoes, corn, peanut, soybean, pumpkin, cassava, choko, carrot, beans and other local vegetables.

During a follow-up engagement to deliver the next phase of training, the CLIP team were surprised to see a group of men dressed in traditional Huli attire walk into the training area belonging to the 3 Ways Women’s Group.

Shirley Tombenna, a CLIP officer from ExxonMobil PNG, knew this symbolised an important occasion.

In Huli culture, men dress up in traditional attire for special occasions. They attain the right to dress in traditional attire after going through the passage of men’s initiation rituals.

The group were husbands of some of the women and young men from the community.  They were dressed in their traditional attire to show their appreciation and to thank the CLIP team for what they were doing to positively transform their families and communities.

Mary Wapu, 3 Way Women’s Group leader, was filled with tears and was speechless at the gesture as it was the first time the men had done such a thing. 

Aipe Ako, a community leader in the greater Hides area, said this was the only way the men could show their appreciation so they wore traditional dress, without informing the women, to show them and ExxonMobil PNG that they want to work side by side with the women to support the program.

The men were present at the nutritional training session and took part in the activities with the women.

Shirley was delighted and said it was a day that she will cherish forever because the program had reached a milestone – it had changed the mindset of Huli men.

The 3 Ways Women’s Group is one of 19 groups to participate in the livelihood program in the Southern Highlands. The group consists of 86 members and is the largest group in Hides.

CLIP started in August 2015 and is a partnership between ExxonMobil PNG and the ANU Enterprise (ANUE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Australian National University.