Papua-Neuguinea: Lorraine Garasu

Sister Lorraine, a catalyst for non-violent peace initiatives through dialogue on Bougainville, helps people find their own ways to solve problems. She creates a positive atmosphere for peace.

— Lorraine Garasu

Sister Lorraine of the Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth in Bougainville, is trained as a community development worker. She has worked as a teacher and social worker and co-founded Bougainville Inter-Church Women's Forum (BICWF) in 1995 during the civil war between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville. Sister Lorraine became a facilitator for the women who were negotiating peace and services for the people with the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. She bravely negotiated life issues such as safety, medical emergencies, and women’s livelihoods with all combatant sides.

The civil war (1988–1998) and blockade brought particular hardships to life in Bougainville. Having concern for justice and human rights issues, Sister Lorraine concentrated on working with women throughout "the crisis," bravely negotiating life issues such as safety, medical emergencies, and women’s livelihoods with the Papua New Guinea and Bougainville combatant sides. All social services systems broke down, and women did what they could to keep things going. Through literacy training and other courses run by Sister Lorraine, both men and women acquired small business skills to help overcome poverty and received help through the Nazareth Rehabilitation Center for traumatized people she helped establish. As co-founder and main force behind the ecumenical Bougainville Inter-Church Women's Forum (BICWF), she worked at grassroots and political negotiations levels for peace, moving between the different fronts, always helping children, women, the sick and aged of all sides. In 1996, the BICWF organized the Arawa Peace Forum attended by 700 women; it played a fundamental role in ending the war. Sister Lorraine continues to work with other women of the BICWF, setting up training courses in conflict resolution and literacy, capacity building for women’s groups, working on projects for creating incomes on the local level and consolidating peace programs for reconstruction, reconciliation and lasting peaceful development on Bougainville. At all times, she has worked to strengthen the role of Bougainville women in education, work, and political activity.

Bougainville Inter-Church Women’s Forum (BICWF) Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth (CSN)