The impact of the Hevea Cup & Wellness Expo (HC&WE) on communities in Papua New Guinea has been nothing short of transformative. Through its unique blend of sports, health education, and community engagement, the event has become a catalyst for change, particularly in public health and reducing gender-based violence.
The HC&WE has successfully raised awareness about crucial health issues, such as sexual and reproductive health, including STIs, cervical cancer, contraception, and maternal mortality. It has also tackled the urgent problem of family and sexual violence, providing vital information on prevention, testing, treatment, and access to care. By combining sports with a Wellness Expo, the event has effectively educated communities, enabling them to make informed decisions and take charge of their well-being.
One inspiring impact story that exemplifies the transformative power of the HC&WE is that of the Baramatta Cowboys. Ricky Makavo, from Abau District, Central Province, had been an ardent supporter of the event since 2019. Despite his initial unsuccessful fundraising attempts, he remained determined to be part of the Hevea Cup. In 2020, with the support of GSP and sponsor Tahina Booth, Ricky’s community handpicked 20 young and vulnerable men who needed this life-changing opportunity.
For these 19 boys who had never left their village before, participating in the Hevea Cup in Port Moresby was a journey of personal growth, empowerment, and skill development. Through the grass-root workshops, these young men not only honed their Rugby League skills but also learned about health, gained confidence, and discovered the power of teamwork and support. The impact of these small changes was profound, evident to GSP and the entire community. The experience sparked a remarkable transformation, reigniting the local Cloudy Bay Rugby League competition. This rural competition, driven by the initiative of community members rather than the National Rugby League, has brought together men’s and women’s teams from different villages. It has become a symbol of unity, inspiration, and positive change, showcasing the immense potential unleashed by the support of GSP.
The HC&WE has become a platform for empowerment, community-led initiatives, and behaviour change. It has empowered individuals like Ricky Makavo and the Baramatta Cowboys, providing them with opportunities for growth, learning, and personal development. It has also fostered a sense of pride, unity, and collaboration within communities, allowing them to take ownership of their well-being and create sustainable change.
The impact of the HC&WE extends far beyond the event itself. It has sparked a ripple effect, inspiring other communities to follow suit and reignite their local initiatives. This testament to the power of community-driven efforts exemplifies the importance of the HC&WE in creating lasting change, promoting public health, and reducing gender-based violence.
Through its unwavering commitment to community engagement, education, and support, the HC&WE has become a beacon of hope, transformation, and empowerment in Papua New Guinea. The stories of individuals like the Baramatta Cowboys stand as a testament to the profound impact this event has on communities, proving that with dedication, collaboration, and the right support, positive change is not only possible but achievable