Rex Naisy is a man of the church – a man of peace – but he also knows the temptation of violence.
When his brother Jacob was killed in 2007 by rival ethnic combatants seeking revenge over a conflict that ended years earlier, Naisy stood up in church and urged his community to reject revenge attacks.
They did not listen. In the ensuing four years of bloodshed between the Wisai and Me’ekemui of Konnou district in Bougainville Autonomous Region of Papua New Guinea, Naisy’s two other brothers also died.
“It felt personal,” he said. “I went through a lot of hard times, they shot at me when we went into the jungle but the bullets never hit me.
“I was tempted to join combat,” explained Naisy. “I actually held the weapon but did not join the fighting, I did not take up arms. I stood as the peacemaker.”
Instead, he followed his path as a church elder and peacekeeper. He was an integral part of the Konnou Peace Committee and participated in negotiations that ended the violence in 2011.
With his father having introduced cocoa to the Konnou community, today Rex has one of the largest cocoa plantations in the community and in May 2016, he harvested his first 65-kilogram bag of wet cocoa bean.
He is an active participant in the World Bank-funded Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP), being the first cocoa farmer in his community to plant pest-resistant cocoa trees, and he now also now trains other farmers in the community in cocoa farming.