Papua New Guinea

Text by Sepp Ginner, who was an Austrian volunteer in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea in the 1980s:

On the 28th of February, a tremendous earthquake (7.5 on Richter scale) shocked the Southern Highlands Province in Papua New Guinea. As is often the case, this calamity hardly received any media coverage due to the remoteness of the affected region.

But for me, this feels like a blow with a club. Six months ago, I stayed in Yaken, near Mendi, the provincial capital. The house I was staying at broke into three parts. The car we were driving with fell into a crack in the ground. The water tanks are broken.

My friend Maikol got out of his house as if he had been on an ejection seat. The house leans on its side on sprained stilts. The whole village is disconnected from traffic, there is no power supply.

But the biggest problem is the supply of water. Usually, rain water is used as drinking water. But to collect it, you need to have tin roofs as well as water tanks, but all that was destroyed by the earthquake. In “my” village fortunately nobody was hurt, but in the surrounding areas there have been hundreds of deaths.

The national government is hardly able to cope with this situation. The infrastructure in the whole region (Mandi, Tari, Nipa, Kutubu) has been razed to the ground. The hospitals are crowded, they don’t have power, water or medicine. Doctors and nurses lost their own homes and stay under canvases and in tents. Hundreds of aftershocks still strike the region with up to 6.5 on the Richter scale (more information:

People panic and start starving, and many children are affected.

We are collecting money for Maikol, as half of the village is dependent on his water tank. From time to time I manage to be in contact with him; he is able to charge his mobile phone by a solar panel I brought him last year. The radio poles are slowly being repaired by Digicel, who have guaranteed free phone calls for three weeks.

Maikol is a very trustworthy person, father of five children and highly respected in his community.

The entire region at the moment depends on supplies brought in by helicopter, as the Highlands are very impassable with lots of mountains and deep valleys.


Support the people in the region by donating to B4HP, this money will directly be transferred to the people there! Please use "Papua New Guinea" as a code on your transaction.