Everlyn Kunda has been working with the most vulnerable members of her community for many years. She provides multiple volunteer services as a human rights defender and social worker in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In September 2021 the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights in the Asia Pacific region, recognized Everlyn’s incredible work. The Fund Board presented Everlyn with a Security and Well-Being grant of $5000.00 USD to help her to continue her work in the Eastern Highlands Province. https://www.uafanp.org/
Everlyn is from the small community of Geri Biksi in the north of Simbu province. Her mother died when she was still in primary school. As the only child in the family, it fell to Everlyn to take care of herself and her Father. Between attending school and cooking Everlyn worked daily in the garden, planting and harvesting food. It was a difficult situation, and she endured many hardships through the early years of her life. Despite these challenges, Everlyn did very well in her schooling and won scholarships that provided her with an opportunity to study at teachers college. Shortly before she was to travel to continue her studies, all Everlyn’s possessions were destroyed in a fire. Her opportunity to continue her education was lost.
Several years of hardship followed. Angry and frustrated at what seemed a hopeless situation, Everlyn turned to a life of petty crime. Within a few years she found herself a solo mother of three living rough in Lae City. Determined to change her situation, Everlyn began to work as a translator for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL). Her intelligence and caring nature were soon recognized by her employers. She became a permanent live-in employee at SIL in the Eastern Highlands. Everlyn was able to live and raise her children in a secure environment. With her children grown, Everlyn moved to Goroka to live among shanties and poor communities on the edges of the town.
It was there in Goroka among the survivors of gender based violence and sorcery accusation related violence that Everlyn found her calling. For the last five years Everlyn has devoted her life to her work as a Human Rights Defender, counselor, and support person. In Papua New Guinea where there are few social services and little in the way of government assistance, Everlyn provides hope and support to solo mothers, street children and sorcery violence survivors. Everlyn provides a huge range of services for people who have no one else to turn to. She counsels the victims of violence, houses sorcery violence survivors, and provides food and medicine in conjunction with her support partners.
The Urgent Action Fund awarded Everlyn the grant to assist her in continuing her work. The funding will help to provide basic food, medical supplies, transportation, and counselling support for survivors. The money will also be used to help Everlyn relocate her safe house to a more secure environment.
When Everlyn heard about the grant she said, “I am very grateful to have received this support after so many years of doing this alone. I’m so happy to have this help from the Urgent Action Fund, thank you.”
With her move to a new safer location outside of Goroka town, the team behind Sanguma – Islands of Fear want to support Everlyn to build a permanent safe house on the new land in the next few years.