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FROM TWO DRUM OVENS

Natasha Ovoi

With the rising sun comes the familiar honk that almost anyone living in Bomana is now accustomed to, some wake up to it, some wait for it, others run after it because they had just missed it. Responsible for it is a blue-canvassed-open-back minivan dubbed as the “scone truck” for in it are baked goodies that do justice to their compelling scent. 

The scone truck plays a crucial role in the current success of the Female Wing Bakery, a bakery that rose up from behind bars from two drum ovens at the hands of female inmates that have a gift for baked perfection.  

In an interview with this newsroom, Acting Projects Manager, Senior Inspector Georgina Nelson gave an insight into the rise of this sweet establishment. As part of prisoner rehabilitation in Papua New Guinea, certain community engagement programs and projects are carried out within the institution that the prison division considered low risk are allowed to take part in.  The Female Wing Bakery from the Bomana Penitentiary, Port Moresby is one such project.

Although baking for inmates in the Female Wing, Bomana began around 2017 with Scones and Banana cakes, the idea of baking big took flight in 2019. Female Wing was visited by the One Tribe Ministries, a religious organization based in Queensland, Australia. The Ministry carried out a course on Basic Bakery Training, of which the institution let all the female inmates, plus some of the staff, participate. Their training hoisted their menu beyond Banana Cakes and Scones. While the scones and banana cakes became better, muffins, the big cookies, bread loaf and recently, cream buns, was added to the menu.

With support from the Papua New Guinea Correctional Service Department, the bakery hit the ground running as it was a success bringing in a total of K800 to K900 per day. Last year alone, the bakery had made up to K43, 000.  

Costing around K75 000 for refurbishment, a three-deck baking oven, a mixer plus baking utensils and a three-phase power upgrade, the bakery is securely situated within the Female Wing Prison.

With Six female baker inmates at the helm of it all, the bakery does sales to the whole Bomana community, thanks to the ”Scone truck”, from Mondays to Fridays, and sells as far as the Catholic Seminary opposite the iconic War Cemetery. Familiar with famous “honks” are also students attending De La Salle and Marianville Secondary Schools, Bomana Primary, plus rest of the lot, students and professionals alike that ease the frustration of being stuck at the Bomana bus stops with a muffin or two.  

Apart from the Bakery, currently the Female Wing has Tailoring, Handcraft, Agriculture and Floriculture rehabilitation projects that enable prisoners to gain new skills that equip them as well as gives them a new point of view to face the society after serving their terms behind bars.

A big advantage to such rehabilitation is that it gives hope and a tool for survival after prison for these inmates, the Senior Inspector expresses. The prisoners have the potential to continue to contribute to society.

Bomana Female Wing hopes to continue and expand the bakery in time. Practices for new delicacies to up the menu are already underway, the Acting Project Manager mentioned with a smile. A great news indeed for the Bomana households.

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