Bougainville: Hako Women’s Collective

Project established: 2019

The Hako Women’s Collective is based in the Buka District of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Together, Hako and indigo are committed to staff a community resource centre that includes a Safe House for women and children fleeing family and sexual violence, as well as opportunities for learning and the development of healthy, informed and peaceful families and communities in this
remote region of Bougainville.

The women and children of Bougainville were caught in brutal and protracted civil conflict between 1988 and 1998. Whilst a peace agreement and the granting of autonomous status by the Government of Papua New Guinea brought some stability to the region by 2005, many development and social justice challenges have remained. Communities in the Hako area experience high levels of
family and sexual violence, and struggle to sustain themselves through share cropping. Health, water and sanitation services are extremely limited and there has been little investment in infrastructure such as roads. What little income that is brought into a family is spent on getting through to the next day. Women and their children are most affected by these problems.

Hako Women’s Collective is an umbrella organisation for all women in the Hako community in Buka and began its work June 2006 with 650 women and 130 girls coming together seeking collective solutions to the problems they faced. From this gathering, a committed and dynamic volunteer-run organisation has developed which provides education opportunities, improves health and advocates for the rights of women and children.

Through our partnership, Hako and indigo foundation are staffing and resourcing a Safe House (Meri Seif Haus in the Hako language) where women and children fleeing family and sexual violence can seek sanctuary 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Whilst there, women receive advice and referrals for health and legal services, and support for building a safer environment for themselves and their

We are also providing staffing and operating costs for the Hako Resource Centre (Luman Hipakoko). This is the only place locally where women can learn to read and write in a safe and supportive environment, and where school children can come to supplement their studies through using the library. Meeting spaces are used for a variety of trainings in diverse subjects such as life skills, leadership and community advocacy. It is hoped a small canteen offering low-cost and nutritious
meals for trainings and meetings may become more sustainable and a future source of income. The Resource Centre is the heart of Hako community, a place where all are welcome to meet, to exchange ideas and to help each other out.

Meet Marina, Hako’s Librarian

“I have worked in the library for five years. I joined HAKO because I really wanted to be a librarian, talking with the students, looking after the books, making some programs with the schools. I have always liked reading books ever since I was a small child. My daughter … is also growing up in the library with the books and I’m happy about that. My favourite part of the work is with the students and helping them find books they will love or writing essays for their school-work. I have finished a library studies course, I really loved it and learnt so many new skills. I learnt how to be confident and manage the visitors to the library. I love welcoming everyone to the library. I am just waiting for my certificate.”