Participant stories

Student A

I am a female student in year eight (8) at Ted Diro Primary School. Before EPF came to our school, I had no knowledge about gender equality and gender inequality. I thought it was normal for women to assume lesser roles than men in our society. That is how my family acted out back at home. We girls had roles and rules set out for us. Week Three (3) of the EPF4S program, the topic was on ‘Everyone’s Equal’. We did the step forward activity and man, it was really unfair seeing the cards with the boys/men having more privileges than girls/women. I personally felt that regardless of gender, we should have all walked forward.

Equal Playing Field has taught us about our rights as a child. We have the right to say no to all forms of violence that is occurring amongst ourselves and within our families. My grand-parents in the past physically abused my parents as a way of instilling discipline but it has now changed because kids nowadays have rights to protect them.

I would like to thank the awesome Equal Playing Field team for having the time and heart of helping us learn new things. I am trying my best every day to have the characteristics of a dolphin.

Student B

I am a male student in year seven (7) at June Valley Primary School. Prior to the EPF4S program undertaken by our school, there were a lot of abuses occurring at our school. After six (6) weeks into the program, we observed little changes in the behaviours of students. Before, boys and girls kept their distances in the school grounds. Girls would hang out on their own and same were the boys. But now, EPF taught us that we are all equal. We the boys had fun playing alongside the girls. The girls proved to be good rugby league players – some were even faster than us.

The messages from EPF were mainly about respect. Respect! Respect! Respect others as you respect yourself. It is also important how we talk and behave towards others. Because of no respect, Papua New Guinea has a lot of violence issues. My own behaviours at home has changed for the good.

I just want to thank EPF for their time and effort for teaching us about respectful behaviours.

Student C

I am a female year seven (7) student at June Valley Primary School.  I have learnt to respect others and help them when they need help with something, also I’ve learnt to have a good relationship with others.

Before I’ve never respected others and treat them well. I would verbally abuse my classmates and others but when EPF came to our school that is when I began to have respect for others and treat them well. I am not perfect but I am trying to control my anger every day. I want my country to be different in the future. We all need to show respect to everyone around us. You can never understand a person unless you put yourself in their shoes.

I am grateful for EPF!

Volunteer MSC

My name is Alicia, I am 26 and I am from the Manus and Central Province.

I’ve always wanted to volunteer and found out about Equal Playing Field (EPF) through a friend of mine who does a lot of work with young people. I sent my papers through in September and the rest is history!

I am absolutely thankful for the 5 days of training we had prior of us going to the. It better equipped myself and the other volunteers and allowed us to get to know each other, our strengths and weaknesses, before talking with the children. The training provided an avenue for open discussion, most of us had the passion for the cause, but needed basic information and tools to get the message across.

All the information I have now from the training has actually inspired me to fight and speak up. Why fight against gender based violence? Why not? It is an obvious issue and in my personal opinion it is a major hindrance to the development of our nation. Think of how much better our homes, communities and work places would be if we all just respected each other enough to see each other as equals. But, I fight also for a more personal reason. My mother was a victim of domestic violence and I watched it all unfold. So today, I fight for my mother and the young me. No child or woman should have to go through that.

I worked with an amazing team. And as a woman in PNG the fight against gender based violence is real and I felt I did my part. And lastly, I have no doubt that the EPF4S program is a great weapon in this fight against domestic violence.

What changes have I seen? A lot! And I am not just being nice. There have been many personal changes for me as a result of volunteering with EPF. I’ve come out of my shell a lot more because the EPF staff encourages you to be part of a cohesive team and more so because when you are out there with the children, it’s not about you anymore, it’s about them. You have message that they need to hear, you cannot shy away from it. And there are many changes with the children. I’ll admit I was a little worried that we wouldn’t make an impact in just 8 weeks, but it was amazing to see little changes occurring within each child. The boys are a little more respectful towards to the girls. They know now to correct each other, even themselves when they have said something that is inappropriate or wrong. And as each child makes a small change you watch the entire grade slowly change and that’s amazing. And if there was no significant change in that child I can rest assured that we’ve planted a seed and it’ll grow if not today, then tomorrow or the week after or years later. That’s better than no change at all.

The most significant change I will always remember happened in week four of the EPF4S program. The previous week the topic was “Everyone’s Equal” and we talked to the kids about human rights and gender equality. The kids seemed a little disinterested because it is an elaborate topic so my assumption was they may not have grasped the concept so well. Boy was I wrong. Week 4 came and my team was AMAZING! The girls who would toss the ball like a hot potato as soon as they got it, thought “sure rugby is predominantly a guy’s sport, but I am his equal, I can play” and so they the girls played an unbelievable game. They boys saw the girls as their equals and allowed themselves to pass the ball to the girls and as a result the team won both on and off the field.  

Any regrets? No, I don’t have any regrets. I worked with an amazing team. And as a woman in PNG the fight against gender based violence is real and I felt I did my part. And lastly, I have no doubt that the EPF4S program is a great weapon in this fight against domestic violence.

Student D

From my view the biggest change that I have noticed is everyone is seen trying their best in treating others equally.

Week two of the EPF4S programme was my favourite week. In our school we never respected each other and we put up fights with other students (within our school) and teachers as well. From the Shed Talks, topics such as; Setting Boundaries, Walk and Talk, Equality and five forms of violence and abuses stood out for me. Students showing respect for other students and students respecting opinions of others were some of the biggest changes that I have observed happening since Equal Playing Field came to our school.  At home, I usually I don’t listen to my mother or sister’s instructions and I was a bighead! But after going the EPF4S programme sessions, I started to change and obey my mother and sister in the house and respect others as well (opinion and ideas of people are equally important). From my view the biggest change that I have noticed is everyone is seen trying their best in treating others equally.   

Student E

When thinking about the EPF4S programme, week four was my favourite because I was able to understand the importance of putting myself into another person’s shoes to understand them well (empathy). Some of topics and new ideas I have learnt during the EPF4S programme were; respectful behaviours in personal relationships, setting boundaries and support networks. There has been more sharing amongst the students as a result of the EPF4S program. Now I am aware of the five forms of violence and abuse (week two of the EPF4S programme, students were able to recall at least three of the five categories of violence; emotional, sexual, social, financial and social; and provide more than one example of each).  I have changed my views about showing respectful behaviours and that has been the significant change for me.

Student F

Week one was my favourite week because we discussed what makes a good relationship and a bad relationship. Some of the topics, key messages and ideas I have learnt in the Equal Playing Field programme were; Walk and Talk (week four of the EPF4S program, students were able to develop a support network of people they can ask for help if they need it), respectful behaviours and setting personal boundaries (week five of the EPF4S program, students were able to articulate at least one of their personal boundaries to keep them safe by deciding what is and isn’t okay). The biggest changes I’ve seen from my classmates/ other students in the EPF programme is respect. Before Equal Playing Field came to our school, students openly swore at each other but that is slowly changing.

Personally I was (before the EPF4S programme came to Gerehu Primary School) ignorant, arrogant and I never respected my peers.  I am now beginning to have a different approach to my fellow friends as a result of been in the program. The most significant change is respecting others. ‘When you are respectful, people will respect you in return and it is important that it must start at home.’

The program has helped the students recall their actions and bad behaviours and holding others accountable for their actions. They are becoming better students now and I am confident the students can change for the better only when they put what they have learnt into action.  

Student G

Week four (4) was my favourite in the Equal Playing Field programme. We learnt about putting ourselves into shoes of others and understand how they feel. I learnt a lot from the Shed Talks. I learnt that in gender equality, men and women are equal and have equal roles to play. Setting boundaries in my personal life is about what is and isn’t okay and aim to be have a dolphin behaviour (be assertive) is important.

The biggest change I saw from my classmates and other students prior to EPF’s programme at our school is, boys and girls in my school did not do things together. But after EPF came, they started to be friendlier to each other, feel free to talk to each other and becoming more open minded.

The biggest change I have noticed from my peers seeking consent from their friends before doing or getting their things.

Student H

Some of the changes I have seen were, boys stopped bullying others, girls stopped teasing each other, some of the boys in my class used to be quiet but now they came out talking. For myself, I stopped the habit of swearing and bullying my class girls.

Before EPF came to our school, the students were very aggressive and possessed Shark’s characteristics. As we go through the EPF program and learned about the three animals and their characteristics, learning about different forms of violence and respect, I have learnt that being a shark is not a good character.

When we go through the middle of the EPF program, students reactions towards one another started to change and they became good students. Some of the changes I have seen were, boys stopped bullying others, girls stopped teasing each other, some of the boys in my class used to be quiet but now they came out talking. For myself, I stopped the habit of swearing and bullying my class girls.

After learning from the EPF4S program, the biggest change in me was that, I stopped the habit of swearing. I do not swear anymore because I do not want anyone to swear at me. I tell others that teasing and fighting is not right. I started to do good to my friends unlike swearing before.

Student I

Before EPF came to my school, there were no sign of respect among students. When we learned about respect, setting boundaries and putting yourself into someone else’s shoe in our shed talks in the EPF4S program, they were very helpful. When I look back and assess myself, I need to change and display good behaviours.

When we were in the middle of the EPF4S program, students displayed some form of respectful behaviours. Prior to the EPF team coming to my school, students were displaying aggressive behaviour but when EPF came, they displayed assertive behaviours. However, the biggest change in myself which I felt have resulted from the EPF program was that, I was a bullying person but now I became non-aggressive to the students.

After learning so many things from the EPF4S program, respecting others is the most important change in my school. When you respect others, you do to others what you want them to do to you in return.