Apply to Join

Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans

by Bismark Ramu Group
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Sharing the Future - Young Papua New Guineans
Apr 3, 2019

Balangut-Kundu & Wairon-Tifa for Cultural Revival

The Wairon
The Wairon's Sorong to Samarai Canoe Voyage

Today, in many small villages in Papua New Guinea (PNG), people aim to transition from a traditional way of life to a modern lifestyle. But this is not the case in all PNG communities. For Kavailo village on Karkar Island, off the north coast of PNG, after much hard work thinking deeply about what kinds of development would truly benefit their people, especially the youth, they embarked on the opposite kind of process – they decided to go back to tradition in order to rebuild cultural pride.

This process revolved around the Kavailo community members coming together to build a traditional canoe, called a Balangut in the local language. For thousands of years, canoe making was central to the life of coastal villages like Kavailo. But over the last few generations, since contact with Europeans and then rapid social change associated with globalization, traditional canoe making went into decline and then stopped – a Balangut had not been built for almost three generations and the traditional knowledge about how to build such a canoe was soon to die out. Recognising the urgency of the situation, a local village Elder and pastor of the local Mugaer Lutheran church was able to get the villages of Kavailo and the surrounding areas to work together to revive this important cultural practice.

In Kavailo today, indigenous culture and Christianity are both important parts of life – these aspects of society now exist side by side and contribute to shaping the modern-day holistic context of the community. Given this context, the revival of the Balangut was celebrated in the local culture, hand-in-hand with the Christian faith. The Balangut cultural revival became a participatory process of getting local Elders to revalue and appreciate their culture and heritage and then moving forward in rediscovering their canoe-making culture.

While the people of Kavailo, Karkar Island, PNG embarked on their cultural revival journey, communities in West Papua were doing the same – also rebuilding a large traditional canoe, called Wairon in West Papua. The plan was for the Wairon of West Papua to sail along the north coast of New Guinea from the West across the border and eastward to Karkar Island – where the two communities would meet and celebrate their joint achievements.

Children and young adults became the focus of this unforgettable cultural revival and exchange between West Papuans and Karkar Islanders. Local Elders now believe that they are the keepers of the future and that they will pass on this responsibility to the next generation. What a sight it was to see Kavailo youths performing traditional dances on the Balangut and in the center of the village to welcome the Wairon canoe from West Papua. It was a beautiful and emotional welcome. The Wairon West Papuans then participated in a weeklong cultural event in Kavailo, where culture was revived and shared while also being recognized within the Christian faith. It was a special time of healing, peace, and unity. A huge feast was also held to celebrate this cultural achievement.

In addition to cultural restoration, the Balangut and Wairon cultural exchange event made possible the revival of traditional canoe voyaging – a critically important traditional life skill. It was a truly historical event, which reaffirms cultural ties across an unwelcome modern-day border, thus reuniting our land with the beat of our traditional drums – the kundu in PNG and the tifa in West Papua. There is now a strong feeling that such brave community initiatives will give hope and courage to other indigenous communities in PNG, West Papua, and beyond to discover their path to self-realization based on Melanesian values.

If you would like to support young people in local indigenous societies to rediscover and revive their culture for future generations please donate to Sharing the Future-Young Papua New Guineans project on GlobalGiving.  

Wairon crew presented with gifts
Wairon crew presented with gifts
Young girls, Kavailo village in traditional attire
Young girls, Kavailo village in traditional attire

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Bismark Ramu Group

Location: Madang - Papua New Guinea
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Julianne Sapi
Madang, Madang Papua New Guinea

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

Still want to help?

Support another project run by Bismark Ramu Group that needs your help, such as:

Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.