Last Friday, our Port Moresby team took the day off and went on a retreat to the beach. We bonded, played games, and had a barbecue. But the day wasn’t all about taking a break from the city. We reviewed the Links of Hope Code of Conduct and Child Protection Policy and did some strategic planning in light of the current HIV epidemic in Papua New Guinea. Today, there are still 300 babies born with HIV in PNG, which is largely because only 68% of pregnant mothers living with HIV have access to treatment during the ante- and post-natal periods. Current science delineates that parent to child transmission is entirely preventable if the mother receives antenatal care early in her pregnancy and adheres to her medication regimen throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. While seemingly simple, there are numerous challenges and barriers to this reality. In PNG, both infrastructure and HIV related stigma are high on that list of hurdles.
The LOH team spent several hours at the retreat discussing how we can be better equipped as a team and an organisation to address these challenges. Investing in our team’s capacity development is huge—prepared and robust staff make for effective programming. Strategic partnership was another common theme. At LOH we know that we can’t combat HIV alone; but, with the coordinated efforts of the public, private, and civil society sectors in PNG, we can reach zero stigma and, ultimately, zero transmission. Without taking the time to reflect and grow, without continuous organisational development, Links of Hope recognises that it would be stagnant and unproductive. But that is not our culture. Instead, we left the retreat energized (albeit, exhausted from the day) and prepared to tackle such seemingly intractable challenges.
Links of Hope will be hosting an equivalent retreat with our Mt. Hagen team in November. If you’re interested in partnering with us in the name of capacity development and staff empowerment, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org