This month we wish to highlight some of our ACDP teachers who have become change makers in their communities through the program. We interviewed them, starting from their personal journeys of when they first joined ACDP until now. 

Some of our teachers came from challenging backgrounds and found support through the Active City Development Program. Others came because they were looking for something to do rather than just simply sitting at home. Others came to better themselves, while others were drawn to the program because of the activities. Whatever their reason for joining ACDP, they found hope and healing and are now able to share these restorative practices with others. 

Jomeda Yoni, age 28 has been with the Active City Development Program for 6 years. He says that he became interested in ACDP when he was kicked out of school. “The program provided opportunities for me, offered me a chance to be trained as a yoga teacher and through that I am now able to take care of myself. I used to drink a lot and harass people on the street. When I joined this program I totally changed. I have gained confidence through ACDP to speak in front of people. My role now is to do awareness in communities and teach yoga to people of all ages.” Jomeda currently works with ACDP as a yoga teacher and

Ahia Enoch, age 26 has been a part of the Active City Development Program for 8 years. He states, “After my first yoga class I felt calm and peaceful. Before I started yoga I was pickpocketing and doing drugs. This exercise helped me to relax my mind and focus on positive things. ACDP has given me so many opportunities. I have been trained as a yoga teacher and have had the chance to travel and experience many things because of the program.” Ahia is now a full-time yoga teacher, a performer with the PNG Circus and a circus instructor in the Pikinini Pilai Program.

Wilma Madanga, age 26 has been with the Active City Development Program for four years. She first came to the program because of her interest in kickboxing. “I feel free” she says. “I feel like I can protect myself. Since I joined Active City I feel like women can do anything that men can do. I used to think that women could not do kickboxing.” Wilma currently teaches boxing to youths and children in the ACDP and Pikinini Pilai Program. 

Henry Mekere, age 27 has been with the Active City Development Program for almost 7 years. When asked how he has changed since he first joined ACDP he states, “As a teenager I was overweight. I was not happy with my body. I came to try out the community yoga class and from there I fell in love with it. ACDP helped me to balance my emotions, taught me to listen more and helped me to learn not to judge people. I thought that this program was just about exercise but the program has changed my behavior and taught me to listen and understand people before developing an opinion about them. This program has provided me a job and has taught me to be independent in order to stand on my own two feet.” Henry presently works full-time at Caritas School as a PE teacher. 

Nadya Evi, age 19 has attended the Active City Development Program for 5 years. She says, “After my mom died I was not in school. My cousin told me about the program and I didn’t want to just be at home doing nothing so I came to check it out. This program has allowed me to travel and perform in front of very important people in aerial dance and circus. I also did my yoga teacher training through ACDP. I was once shy but ACDP has helped me to get out of my comfort zone.  Every activity that we do here at ACDP is for males and females. We practice gender equality here.” Nadya currently teaches yoga at Butuka Academy and at Caritas School. She also performs with the PNG Circus team as well as teaches circus skills as an instructor in the Pikinini Pilai Program. 

Graham Evi, age 29 has been in the Active City Development Program for 6 years. “The program has helped me a lot and taught me how to behave and how to manage my emotions when I get mad” He stated. “I’ve also learned how to respect others by practicing the values that ACDP teaches. I decided to commit myself to the program after coming for a while. I started teaching dance and got to travel to different provinces to perform.  I love working with young people and I often encourage them to join the dance program here at ACDP. I always tell them that if they join ACDP it will change their character and their mindset.” Graham has recently joined the ACDO team as a full-time dance teacher. He teaches hip hop, dancehall, traditional-modern fusion and contemporary basics and often mobilizes the youth in his community to attend the trainings.