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Monday 23 November 2015 | Published in Regional


One family’s outreach to drought-hit orphans
The Armstrong family from Australia has decided to send money to drought-stricken orphans in Papua New Guinea. ABC

MOUNT HAGEN – An Australian family has decided to raise money to send to an orphanage in Papua New Guinea, where the drought crisis has led to a critical food shortage.

Megan Armstrong said both her children were devastated when they heard about the Bible Faith Orphanage Outreach Centre in Mount Hagen, where the children had to walk long distances to get water after all their supplies dried up.

The children at the orphanage were also facing starvation, with the dry weather having destroyed their subsistence food gardens.

“It was just a look of total devastation and heartbreak on my son’s face when I told him,” Armstrong said. “They thought it was very sad and I prompted them to put some thought into how they might help.”

Logan, 10, has decided he will need to pound the pavement to earn money to send the orphanage.

“My son thinks it would be a good idea if he got a job and he wants to do some odd jobs for people and earn some money,” Armstrong said.

Like her brother, Chloe, 12, decided she wanted to do something and also plans to door-knock and do odd jobs to raise some cash.

“It made me feel very sad, because most people have no food or crops, so they can’t eat,” she said. “I want to raise some money so we can help people get back on their feet.”

Armstrong said she was proud of her kids.

“To help take responsibility for helping people when they’re in need is an important value I’d like to instil in my children and I’m really glad that seems to be paying off,” she said.

Mike Jelliffe, president of the orphanage’s management committee, has welcomed the news, adding that they rely on donations to run the centre.

“That’s absolutely wonderful. The orphanage is in the early stages of development and heavily dependent on outside funding, so we’re just thrilled when people feel they can contribute in that way,” he said.

Jelliffe said while there had been a number of regular donors over the past few years, he was encouraged when others chipped in.

“Particularly at this stage, as you know the drought killed all the food gardens off,” he said.

He said the cost of vegetables in the local markets has doubled as a result of the drought and food shortage.

“A bag of sweet potatoes used to cost around 50 kina ($25), now it’s up to around 100 kina,” he said.

As a result, purchasing food has placed an increased strain on the budget.

Jelliffe said despite some recent rainfall, it would be some time before their crops can grow again.

“All of the food in the gardens, roots and everything, had dried out and died off,” he said.

“We’ve still got a bit of time needed for sweet potatoes and peanuts – the main staples for them – to grow again and be harvested.”