Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group was established in 1997. It is an initiative of Sam Solomon Sommi, Founder and Director of the group. The group consists primarily of unemployed youths in the settlements of Lae District, Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.
The bulk of the members are from Kalvary Lutheran Church which is a branch of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea (ELC-PNG) where they participate as a gospel outreach ministry group reaching people through drama, dance and music.
Sam Solomon Sommi, a theatre professional and trainer who resides with the youths in the settlements, decided to train the young people in drama, dance and music after realising their talents gave them great potential to serve as role models in their communities.
In 1997, the PNG Institute of Medical Research (PNF IMR) Lae Branch worked with Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group in the Transex Project (1996-2000). The PNG IMR Transex project primarily targeted the Transport Industry, namely maritime workers, dock workers and sex workers. The project was focused on behavioural change and the practice of safe sex in the Transport Industry.
The staff of PNG IMR has also helped to educate the members of Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group on basic sexual health, including HIV/AIDS and STI, as well as train them in peer education. Between 1998 and 2000, with the support of the PNG IMR, the group received funds from the National HIV/AIDS support agency funded by AUSAID to carry out awareness-raising on HIV/AIDS in the workplace, schools, villages and the urban settlements surrounding Lae District.
Seeds was also engaged by the National Department of Health (NDOH) to attend two training workshops titled “Traditional and Popular Media Workshop” held in 1998 and “Using Theatre for Health Communication” held in 2002. After these workshops the group became involved in health promotion and awareness-raising in Lae District and the urban settlements, with particular focus on malaria, HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood and family planning. The group also promoted the treated net and produced a radio drama with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), broadcast on Kundu FM 105, addressing the above health issues.
The group was actively working with NDOH between 1997 to 2009, participating in all Health Expos during the Morobe Agricultural Shows.
Based in Lae District, the members of the group have been using their talents to address many issues that are affecting their communities, especially in the urban settlements. Furthermore, their participation has been fundamental in keeping them away from criminal activities, allowing them to become role models for other youths in the community to follow.
For the last 12 years the group has been actively involved in raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and other health issues, as well as running theatre training and workshops for other community theatre groups, NGOs and the Morobe Health division.
The group is a not-for-profit organisation and most of its members are still active, using their talented performing arts skills to facilitate self-education, self-employment and self-reliance in community development and mobilisation.