2009 – Papua New Guinea

For WDP 2009, the women of Papua New Guinea invite us to come with them to the "land of the unexpected".  We are invited to come with respect and openness to see what God will reveal through this worship service prepared by the women of Papua New Guinea.

PNG mapThe independent state of Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies just below the equator on the western side of the Pacific Ocean. The island of New Guinea is the second largest island in the world, after Greenland. More than 600 islands make up Papua New Guinea. Some of these islands have active volcanos, and feature geothermal springs and dramatic mountain ranges.

There are more than 800 distinct languages in Papua New Guinea. The three official languages are: English, which is taught in all the schools; Melanesian Pidgin, which was introduced by the Germans and is now the main language; and Motu, which is spoken in the Papuan coastal areas.


The culture of PNG is very diverse and complex. It is estimated that there are more than 1000 cultural groups.Each culture is expressed in unique ways, whether through art, dances, costumes, music, architecture, or customs.

About 60% of women in PNG are illiterate; in remote areas, the number is as high as 85%. Although women have traditional land rights, many are dependent on men for their economic survival. Many rural homes have dirt floors and no electricity or running water.

Papua New Guineans are known for their kindness and gift of hospitality. The offering and sharing of betelnut which is chewed with mustard and lime, or sharing of a kulau (young coconut) in the coastal areas of PNG, or offering of sugar cane in the Highlands, is a sign of welcome and friendship regardless of the other’s ethnic group, language or tradition.

World Day of Prayer 2009 Resources

A number of resources are available as free downloads -- including the Bible studies, recipes, a graphic, poster and other materials -- from the sidebar to the right of this page. Those who have ordered the Music CD will be pleased to know that the words and chords for the song "Yumi Olgeta Bung Wantaim", a Papua New Guinea song introduced on the CD, are now available as a download.

Coordinators will note that no drama is included in the Leadership Guide. However, an excellent drama based on Exodus 1:8 - 2:10 can be found in the Summer/Autumn 2008 issue of Gathering, the United Church of Canada's worship resource, which can be ordered here. A shorter drama focusing on "Moses in the bulrushes" can be found online here.

If you have any questions about this year's service, or would like additional materials, please contact the WICC office.

Pray for Papua New Guinea

The motto of the World Day of Prayer is "Informed Prayer, Prayerful Action". One way to keep the people of Papua New Guinea in your prayers as you prepare for the upcoming World Day of Prayer on March 6 is to use the Google Alerts system. Visit Google Alerts and fill in the simple search terms.

To get you started, here are links to some current news stories:

 January 27, 2009: HIV high in PNG -- Juli Dugdale, World YWCA Programme Director for Asia and Pacific recently returned from a visit to PNG and describes the work of the YWCA as ‘mind-blowing’. Dugdale visited the capital Port Moresby and also had the rare opportunity to visit Goroka in the Eastern Highlands. ‘The women of PNG are facing big challenges. Violence against women has reached a crisis level. (World YWCA) Read more>

January 16, 2009: Battling for babies -- When most people are still tucked up in bed at 4am, the mothers in the Special Care Nursery at the Port Moresby General Hospital are starting their day. The building was renovated in 1972 by the Rotary Club of Boroko. But since then birth rates have soared, along with the demand for care for critically ill infants, and scant government funding has been available to maintain the nursery, which has now fallen into disrepair with unsanitary conditions. (IRIN news) Read more>

 BBC PNGJanuary 13, 2009: PNG to act on 'sorcery murders' -- An increasing number of deaths and mysterious illnesses are being blamed on evil curses and suspected sorcerers are often blamed and then killed. Police say at least 50 people were killed last year across the country. In the latest suspected incident, a young woman accused of being a witch was burnt at the stake last week. (BBC.) Read more>

January 2, 2009: Papua New Guinea and China's New Empire -- When Chinese engineers landed in Papua New Guinea in 2006 to inspect their latest mineral acquisition, they faced an arduous journey through the tropical wilderness. Today, less than three years later, a series of small Chinatowns has emerged in the jungle — complete with Chinese food, Chinese satellite television channels and crews of Chinese migrant labourers living in cheap dormitory huts. Where once was wilderness, you find the workers of China Metallurgical Group Corp., toiling seven days a week and chattering about their families back home in Beijing and Sichuan. (By Geoffrey York/Globe and Mail.) Read more>

About the 2009 WDP graphic

WDP 2009 graphicBilums are hand-woven bags or baskets which are very common and widely used among Papua New Guinean societies. They are very strong and used to carry everything from food to a baby. Where cultures are so diverse, this simple string bag is common to many.

The WDP graphic brings the symbols of the cross and bilum together. By placing the bilum on the cross, the women of PNG seek a unity where they are not merely held together as though they were gathered into a string bag. They seek a vibrant unity where love is genuine, and where the many, many communities of Papua New Guinea are of one heart and soul.