Distinct Voice: Mercying
Theresia Tina rsm (ISMAPNG): Mercying’ - a challenge in the time of Pandemic in Papua New Guinea

For the people of Papua New Guinea, ‘Mercying’ is a big challenge during this time of the global pandemic. The common conversation on the buses, in the shops and on the streets is all about COVID 19. People share their worries, problems, needs, concerns and fears. Some people say COVID 19 has brought to them a ‘new normal’, a new way to live and to work.  The ‘new normal’ has broken down the routine, timetables, programs, plans and dismantled our normal lifestyle in all kinds of ways.

This is a time of suffering for everyone in the world in so many different forms.  Therefore, everyone is in need of mercy - physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. ‘Mercying’ is something the world is longing for desperately at this time of the global pandemic.

I believe it is the same call that Catherine McAuley experienced during her time in the 19th century cholera epidemic in Dublin. She responded to the same desperate call for 'mercying'. Her feeling of compassion was shown in her practical action.

In my country, Papua New Guinea, we now have the second wave of the pandemic. People are dying unknown in the villages where there are no health facilities to test and record. In the settlements, [people living on the edges of towns and cities] of each of the 23 provinces, people are suffering from the pandemic as well as hunger. There are increased numbers of street venders in the main cities of the country. Innocent people are in danger of losing their livelihoods and their own money, bags and or other properties because the street vendors cut their bags off them. When the victims start screaming or talking back loudly, they can become dead bodies on the ground. This is mostly done to women and girls.  It is very sad and I feel ashamed to share all this, but I feel ‘mercying’ is at risk and a challenge at this point in my country...

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Spanish translation using DeepL Translator. Traducción al español con DeepL Translator

Theresia is from Mt Hagen (pictured above) in Papua New Guinea and is a Sister of Mercy from the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea (ISMAPNG). She began her career as a primary educator and through teaching in some remote parts of Papua New Guinea, she discovered more about the injustice of society at all levels. Theresia is committed to community development through faith based organisations that promote human rights, social justice, self-reliance, and capacity building. She has promoted these values in a variety of community and leadership roles within the Sisters of Mercy.

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