AN exchange programme in New Ireland has been described as the best initiative for villagers in fostering mutual understanding and relations.
She said the programme had been running for the past 10 years where every year, the islanders came to the mainland and exchanged their goods while the mainlanders sailed to the islands. All the goods, both from the islands and mainland, had their own value.
Hiob said the programme, which had strengthened the relationship the two groups, was initiated by a man who married an islander but the trade only involved women in church groups. The idea developed further as more men became involved.
She said although the women came from a matrilineal society, they could not exercise their right and freedom but through the programme, they were able to discuss, travel and make decision for themselves, adding that it had opened the doors for them in recognising their authority in the society and raised their status at a village level.
So far, 34 women and 24 men are involved in the programme.
Hiob said the group was also planning to take educational trips to countries like Indonesia when enough funds were raised.