Minipon Chapel Construction, Peace Building and Conflict Management

Hi there, I am writing to start off the new year with another important experience from Papua New Guinea. I have already reported about the New BOSSET HEALTH CENTRE for 28.000 People in December (feel free to check it out, if you haven’t already). Now I am back with another infrastructure project, I would like to share with you:

04_Minipon chapel_site plan 600dpi

As of today, Minipon, a boarder village between Papua New Guinea and West Papua, has its own little chapel. This is mostly thanks to Paulinus Bonmini – a carpenter by training and migrant from West Papua. He was the main responsible for implementing the project in collaboration with the local community and the Diocese of Daru Kiunga. The project office of the Diocese planned the chapel with the aim to give this simple spiritual building a special meaning and quality by design.

12_Minipon Chapel_Elevations

Political Context

Before presenting the project in a more detailed way, I would like to highlight some aspects about the political context of the region of Minipon:

The Island New Guinea is split-up by an artificial border, a straight line separating the state Papua New Guinea from West Papua, which is Indonesian territory since 1962. Tribes, clans and families are divided by this border but still cross the border irregularly.

At the Papua New Guinean side in the Western Province, refugees and migrants of West Papua got help in UNHCR refugee camps. Today the Diocese of Daru-Kiunga provides health and education services at the former camps and the rural villages close to the border. As the population is predominantly catholic, every village has its own chapel. Minipon, which is located right at the border, now has its chapel too.

15_Minipon Chapel

The Challenges

The location of the small village did not make the construction of the chapel easy. The area can only be reached via a jungle river and a 90 minutes walk through the rainforest on a small path. There are no roads in this remote area of the Western Province. That’s the reason why construction materials had to be transported first by truck, then by dinghy on an almost four hour jungle river cruise and finally carried all the way from the water front to the Minipon village.

Just to give you an idea about the effort the people involved in the construction process made: 40kg bags of cement had to be split, meaning that the transport by hand for one bag from the waterfront to the building site took about 4,5 hours, one working day for two bags of cement. The same applies for sand and gravel, which had to be fetched from the river as well. Bigger river stones will be used for the chapel’s flooring.

The construction of the chapel, which is only 6×9 meters small therefore took three months until it was finally finished.

09_Minipon_Junglepath

The Achievements

Not only does the village own a proper chapel now, but it also invested in peace building and conflict management throughout the construction process. The project involves ongoing partnership between the local church, Catholic Diocese of Daru-Kiunga, and indigenous grassroots communities and aims to build up grassroots development capacities. Skilled refugees are employed by the Diocese involving migrants and other vulnerable groups and minority sectors in local development and governance.

They promote sustainable peace and security based on traditional relational processes of peace building and conflict management (‘Melanesian Way’). Unskilled members of the communities are engaged to foster capacity building. Technical assistance of volunteer professionals builds on indigenous knowledge and grassroots processes.

See for yourself

In order to give you a visual idea of the project’s process, I would like to share the following photo series with you:

I am also quite pleased to let you know that the project got featured for the online exhibition of the “Local Project Challenge”. We participated in the call from two Universities – the Center for Sustainable Urban Development (CSUD), The Earth Institute, Columbia University, New York and the Faculty of Architecture, Federal University (PROARQ), Rio de Janeiro. They were looking for projects that support the UN Sustainable Development Goals. And we were lucky to get selected. They did a very nice job in dipicting the two projects. It is definitely worth a visit! Find the Minipon Chapel presented here: http://localprojectchallenge.org/minipon-chapel-paulinus-bonmini/

For the presentation of the Bosset Health Centre please click here: http://localprojectchallenge.org/bosset-health-centre/

Do you happen to work in similar projects? Or do you have any experiences related to this one? Let’s talk about them in the comments below!

Rainer Kasik

Rainer Kasik

Architektur als Gestaltung sozialer Räume mit dem Ziel Lebenssituationen zu verbessern. Nachhaltigkeit, Partizipation und die Bedürfnisse der NutzerInnen als wesentliche Faktoren.

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