“She is our brother” – Mt Hagen’s pioneering woman artisan
Rose Puri, 40, has always been a pioneer. She is from Jiwaka Province and works as an artisan with the UNICEF-EU WASH Klinpela Komuniti Projek (KKP) that is constructing WASH facilities in primary schools and health centers.
Rose Puri, 40, has always been a pioneer. She is from Jiwaka Province and works as an artisan with the UNICEF-EU WASH Klinpela Komuniti Projek (KKP) that is constructing WASH facilities in primary schools and health centers in Hagen Central District, Western Highland Province.
Puri was the only girl in her class at Madang Technical College and one of only 11 girls in the entire school of 500 students in 2005. Determined to make it as an artisan in the male dominated construction industry, she focused on learning the technical trades of carpentry, concreting, bricklaying, and trade drawing.
“I was wanted to be an artisan because PNG is a developing country and we have a lot of building and constructing to do. I feel I need to do my part,” says Puri.
Unfortunately, lack of school fees cut short her progress at the technical college after only completing one year of the two-year programme.
“I was devastated,” Puri wistfully recalls. “I thought my dream had grinded to a stop.”
A few months later, Puri heard about the then huge ongoing construction of the Hagen Town Market. She went to the market and told the site supervisor about her predicament, stressing that she was a hard worker and a fast learner. She got hired. While on the job she practically learned all the trades she had not been able to complete in technical college.
Now Puri is the only woman artisan in a group of 75 artisans constructing the WASH facilities for 50 schools and three health facilities in Hagen Central District in Western Highlands. This is part of the European Union co-funded EU-UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project under implementation in four pilot PNG districts of Central Bougainville, Goroka, Hagen Central, and Nawaeb. In all, upon completion of the project, 200 primary schools and nine health centers in Western Highlands Province will have access to improved WASH facilities while 800 communities will be empowered to eradicate open defection.
In Central Hagen where Puri is working, UNICEF’s implementing partner, CARE International, is working with local authorities to ensure that after specialized training, the 75 artisans will continue to maintain the WASH facilities for the district and also be a resource that the district and the province can utilize for the construction of WASH facilities in educational and health institutions.
Site Foreman, Mune Tomane, says it is highly unusual to find a woman artisan in the province.
“She is a very good worker and I believe she is ready to even become a supervisor soon,” he adds.