Two weeks beforPNG celebrates its 38th years ofIndependence and already you can seethe streets of Port Moresby in Red Beack Gold and White colours.
As is it normal in PNG such big events are a good opportunity to make business.
Apart fromthe traditional items put on sale atthe Beroko Craft Market in Port Moresby were colourful bilums mostly made and sold bythe women fromthe Highlands region.
It is said that women fromthe Highlands region are gifted with weaving bilums.
“It’s a gift from God so we are making use ofthe gift and making a living out of it…some of us are uneducated and unemployed, but through God, we are able to weave different kinds of bilum designs to earn a living,” said Frlieda, a Belum seller.
They said even thoughthey lover whatthey do;they wantthe government to build a proper craft market area for them to selltheir wares.
“Right now we are just sitting onthe ground, with no proper shelter…our bilums and ther items get dusty during windy season, andthey get wet when it rains…we need proper shelter to cover us fromthe rain,the sun’s heatoand wind & dust,”they said. “We’re promoting and marketin PNG identity and we need to be appreciated and be recognised for our work.”
Atthe 4th Global Review for Aid for Trade in Geneva, Swithzerland, in July this year,theInternational Trade Centre agreed to advance a project that will transformthe informal ‘bilum’ business in PNG into a commercialized industry.
The project will aim to makethe traditional bilum more viable in international markets and will be funded US$3million under IT’s Womenin Trade Program.
Commerce, Trade andIndustry Minister Richard Maru’said this will increasethe value of bilums sold and create more jobs for Papua New Guineacitizens.
Currently,the prices ofthe bilum ranged from 20 to 150 kina. Belum Handbags cost 100-150 kina, and normal bilums cost K100 and below.
“We price our bilums according to our labour fee, time, and expense,”they said. “Our main targets are Pacific Islanders and Papuans because we get a lot of customers fromthem…so now we are just waiting for them,” Frlieda jokingly said and laughed. Pictured: (From Left) Julie, Frlieda (Centre) and friend displayingthein PNG Belums at Beroko Craft Market.
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