In the words of Naomi Kewas: "My advice to young people is not to stay at home. Go out and do something productive that can build your skills and make positive changes in society."


Interviewer: Mahmudul Karim, Communications Specialist, UN Women PNG

Photo: Spotlight Initiative/Mahmudul Karim
Photo: Spotlight Initiative/Mahmudul Karim

My name is Naomi Kewas and I have been a volunteer with Sanap Wantaim since 2019. I was motivated to join this programme because I have a passion for helping others in my community, particularly women and girls facing any kind of abuse. Helping with this kind of work can also be good for young people who might not have a clear direction in life.

Sanap Wantaim, which means “stand together”, is a solidarity campaign to rally together men and women as well as boys and girls as allies and partners, to reduce the high levels of gender-based violence and harassment in the Port Moresby community and elsewhere in Papua New Guinea. As a volunteer, I received training from The Spotlight Initiative on these topics as well as behavioural change communications, consent, gender equality, communication styles, and leadership, which have been very useful for me.

These trainings changed my life. Before, I was not confident enough to speak to others. I was an introvert. Now I gained confidence and could express my feelings to others.


“[..] we are working to minimize it by raising awareness about the importance of respecting boundaries and seeking consent. It is essential to ask for permission before touching someone, even if it is a married couple.”
— Naomi Kewas, a Sanap Wantaim's volunteer

I had an experience where one of my close family members, my aunt who had a small child, was experiencing gender-based violence from her husband. I felt it was important to support her and referred her to a family welfare agency for support. It was a difficult and emotional experience, but I am glad I was able to be there for my aunt and help her in any way I could.

During our outreach activities, we sometimes encounter people in the community who oppose or challenge our efforts. When this happens, we try to answer their questions as best as we can. If we don't have the answer, we promise to get back to them later.

I have also faced harassment from some individuals in the community. Unfortunately, in some cases, harassment is considered the norm. But, we are working to minimize it by raising awareness about the importance of respecting boundaries and seeking consent. It is essential to ask for permission before touching someone, even if it is a married couple.

As someone who has seen the positive impact of being involved in community work, my advice to young people is to not just stay at home but to go out and do something productive that can help build skills and create opportunities for the future. I’ve noticed that a lot of young people in my society just wandering around without any purpose. I believe that volunteering for organizations like Sanap Wantaim can help these kids turn their lives around and create positive change in their community. Being involved in community work like this can provide opportunities for personal growth, skill-building, and making a positive impact in your community. It can also help young people to develop leadership skills, gain confidence, and make valuable connections. So, I encourage young people to get involved in their communities and take advantage of the opportunities available to them.”

Naomi Kewas, 26, comes from East Sepik, Morobe Province. She completed her degree in Agriculture Science at the PNG University of Technology in 2019 and is in her second and final year of a diploma in Human Capital Management at the International Training Institute.

The Sanap Wantaim—Stand Together campaign aims to promote community safety by fostering collaboration between men and women, as well as boys and girls, who work together as allies and partners. This Youth Programme receives funding from the Spotlight Initiative.

The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership programme between the United Nations and the European Union to eliminate all forms of violence against women.