Yegeli Early Childhood Development Centre

North Construction and Building Pty Ltd is a commercial building company based on the Central Coast of NSW. As a company we are committed to using a portion of our annual profits in direct humanitarian aid work both overseas and in Australia. The aim is that through the use of our own resources and the commitment of our staff we will endeavour, through partnerships with local communities, to bring long term benefits and opportunities to those communities.

With New Hope International, an established Australian aid group working in Africa and the Pacific region, we identified a project at Yegeli working with the Duna (Yuna) people of the Pori area in the Hela Region of the Southern Highlands Province. The Pori communitybased development group CIEDA (Community Integrated Educational Development Agency), nurtured the idea of an Early Childhood Development Centre at Yegeli as a model for a centre caring for the needs of the local children from prenatal to Elementary School level. In August 2010 we made an exploratory trip to the site at Pori to assess the proposed project. In short, the need was obvious and the support from the local people for the project was overwhelming.

We immediately began planning for implementation of the work on future trips. It is important to note that from the outset, this was a partnership with the local community. We had no delusions about carrying out this work without their wholehearted support. We could bring resources and technical and management skills to the project but without the hard physical work and stoic determination of these people to change their children’s prospects in life, the project would have failed. By the time we returned in Feb 2011, they had milled sufficient timber from their local forests for the building framework and had concreted in place the steel foundation posts using sand and gravel, hand-carted from the Pori river.

The team of eight people from North’s, ably assisted by many more off-siders, worked hard to complete the building to a lock-up stage in the ten days available. The building consisted of an office, two large areas suitable for meetings, training and clinics and two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom as an accommodation area. Any services were yet to come.

The target for the second trip in July 2011 was to install those services and complete the building to a useable and occupiable stage. The eight Australians on this trip included Tim Cornish, North’s CEO, and three electrical and hydraulic specialists from some of North’s sub-contractors. Through their efforts and with the enthusiastic effort of the local people the building works were completed on Saturday, 20 July 2011, and handed over during a memorable community ‘thankyou’ ceremony the following day. The building now boasts solar powered low energy LED lighting throughout with 240v power available through an inverter from the same solar panels. It has hot and cold water piped to the kitchen and bathroom with all waste water collected and piped to an environmentally safe disposal system. It is a building that can be used as a secure meeting area, as the base for extended health care clinics from the Pori clinic, as accommodation for short or long term trainers of the local people in a variety of disciplines, as an office base for micro-businesses of which North’s are actively looking to foster, and of course as a base for the introduction of better standards of prenatal and early childhood health care and development.

In short, given our observation of the community’s support and enthusiasm, this centre will be the platform for the growth of ideas and initiatives that we have not yet imagined and that, in the coming years we are sure, will both surprise and delight us. We are both proud and mightily humbled to have worked and walked together with the Pori people on this project.