‘Fundraising Swim Raises Over K300,000 for People Living With Disabilities in PNG’

An English Channel swim to raise funds for Cheshire Disability Services has raised significant support from the corporate sector, including from Swire Shipping. Swimmer Neil Papenfus (L) pictured with Randy Selvaratnam (Swire Shipping’s GM (Pacific)).

22 Aug 2023 An English Channel fundraising swim has helped Cheshire Disability Services (CDS), PNG’s main service provider for people living with disabilities, attract over K300,000 in support, more than three times the original fundraising target.  

The funds raised will allow CDS to expand their services into Gulf Province, as well as purchase a new vehicle, allowing CDS physiotherapists and teachers to visit homes of over 1,000 People Living With Disability (PLWD) in Port Moresby, settlements outside of the city, and throughout Central Province. This will enable better access to essential healthcare and education for marginalised communities who either cannot access a hospital/school or where none exists. Building upgrades to an outdoor meeting space and guardhouse will also provide a safe, secure space for students, teachers, and caregivers to meet.

CDS GM Benson Hahambu says that he was thrilled when Neil Papenfus (GM of marine services company, Pacific Towing) first told him last year of his plans to swim the English Channel as a fundraiser. “I remember wondering if Neil’s goal of K100,000 was even possible so you can imagine how surprised and absolutely delighted we were at the response.”

The fundraising target was surpassed thanks in part to a significant contribution from Swire Shipping, a leading provider of sustainable and innovative shipping and logistics solutions. Swire Shipping had already pledged USD 10,000 (K36,000) early in 2023 in support of Neil’s swim. However, after learning more about CDS, they were inspired to provide additional support to help fund the vehicle purchase and building upgrades.

“Swire Shipping has a longstanding commitment to supporting the people and communities of Papua New Guinea,” said Randy Selvaratnam, Swire Shipping’s General Manager (Pacific). “We were inspired by the efforts of Cheshire Disability Services and hope that our donation will go some way towards improving the lives of people living with disabilities.”

“It’s not just the K300,000 of cash, goods, and services resulting from the English Channel fundraiser that is very important to Cheshire Disability Services and the people we help” emphasises Hahambu “but the media coverage and therefore greater awareness people have of the work we do.”

“Also, significant” says Hahambu “is the public’s increased awareness of the challenges people living with disabilities, as well as the families that support them, have here in PNG. Life is extra hard anywhere in the world when you have a disability but in developing countries, especially in one where disabilities are so stigmatised, it is even harder. We want everyone in PNG to know that our brothers and sisters living with disabilities have a lot to contribute to our country’s development and that we just need to provide them with the support and opportunities to do so.”

Education, transport, and accommodation are just some of the services CDS provides. The K300,000+ worth of cash, vehicle, and building upgrades pledged so far to the English Channel fundraiser will enable CDS to continue to provide these much-needed services, including expanding service provision into remoter parts of PNG.

Neil Papenfus is registered to swim the English Channel in October. To donate to CDS’ English Channel Fundraiser, please use the following BSP bank account details:

Account Name: Cheshire Disability Services English Channel Fund Raiser

Branch Name & Number: BSP Haus 088950

Account Number: 7030658046

Swift Code: BOSPPGPM

To learn more about the English Channel Swim fundraiser, please contact Neil Papenfus at npapenfus@pacifictowingmarineservices.com.

Cheshire Disability Services is a well-known, credible, and registered charitable organisation for persons with disabilities. Founded in 1965, Cheshire provides a range of important services that help people with disabilities enjoy their human rights and become full and active members of society.

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