It was an exciting and action packed five days for Liz Watson in Papua New Guinea earlier this month as she travelled to the country with WaterAid Australia to visit a number of community programs.
Watson met with the PNG national netball team and the Patron of Netball PNG and PNG Prime Minister’s wife Lady Lynda Babao in Port Moresby, visited a WaterAid project at a school in Port Moresby to play netball with local girls, and discuss issues of water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as visiting communities in East Sepik and maternal health facilities in Mt Hagen.
Having time to reflect on the trip after a couple of weeks back in Melbourne, Watson said it was hard to pick just one highlight after her visit to the developing country.
"It's so difficult to pick one highlight from the trip because each place we visited was special in its own way," Watson said.
"The traditional Sing Sing from the village community in Mt Hagen was incredible."
"We also met the PNG Pepes netball team and had the chance to talk with them over dinner and hear how they have achieve their netball goals - it was certainly inspiring."
International development agency WaterAid is using sport to drive empowerment as a means to poverty reduction in Papua New Guinea.
Watson continued her tour of PNG as WaterAid Ambassador in Wewak, East Sepik. She visited community members in Kusaun in East Sepik.
Undeterred by passing, and welcome rain to the region, Watson took the opportunity to talk with community members about the implementation of the IRDI (Integrated Rural Development Initiative) and WaterAid WASH program and the benefits to the community, who now have the ability to access to safe drinking water, sanitation and life-saving hygiene information.
“It was fantastic to meet the people from Kusaun Village and see the difference having access to clean, safe water makes to the community,” Watson said.
“Establishing the WaterAid WASH program provides further opportunities for community development, with the implementation of sports like netball the next step in bringing people together and used as another avenue to promote safe practices for access to water, sanitation and hygiene.”
Watson’s PNG tour continued to its last stop at Mt Hagen in the Western Highlands where she visited the Susu Mama’s and health clinics, learning WASH – Waters, Sanitation and Hygiene – needs in maternal and child health services.
"Having this experience in PNG was very eye opening and something I will never forget."
"I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences and stories from PNG back to Australia to help raise awareness of what it is like for young girls and women living in PNG who don't have access to clean and safe water."
"It has again showed me how luckily we are to be living in this amazing country like Australia."