Hi there. You might recall that I have been conducting some public forums on restoration and development in Bougainville. While discussing the forums with Niki Hannan, a fellow VSA volunteer, the idea of including the opinions of Bougainville's students came up. Niki works at a distance education school in Buka and asked her students to write a short essay on peace in Bougainville. I would like to share the following response from Belinda (22).
"In this essay I am going to write about Peace in Bougainville. The first paragraph will look at the issues around Peace in Bougainville. The second paragraph will look at what is going well in terms of Peace. The third paragraph will look at what is not going well and finally the conclusion.
The problems in Bougainville are violence against women and children, abuse of alcohol, drug taking, land disputes, road blocks, guns and further to this crime and many more.
On the other hand people are starting to fed up of all this problems and are working hard to reach peace on the region. For example the village community police are working hard to make sure everyone in the village is safe and they have the freedom to do what they intend to do and further to this the freedom to move around.
However, people are still dying, road blocks are still operating and violence against women and children is still practiced and the guns are still on hand. Which means there is still no Peace in Bougainville.
In conclusion, I think that if we want total peace in Bougainville we should forget all about the past and let us move forward and turn away from all the problems we are facing and reach the everlasting Peace in Bougainville."
Belinda was a student whose education was interrupted during the Crisis. That interruption means that this 22 year old women has a reading age of a 15 year old, but thanks to a return to relative peace and stability Belinda is able to pick up where she left off and continue her education. Makes you appreciate what you've got huh?