Teaching children is a passion for me. Education opens the world as nothing else can!
But in the Papua New Guinea settlement where I live, we had nothing to help the children’s literacy: no paper, no pens, and no classroom – so I started a school under a mango tree.
I live just outside Port Morseby in the peri-urban settlement of 8-Mile, where for years I watched as children roamed unattended as most of them couldn’t get to school. I was raising my own young family, and I knew it would be a challenge, but I dreamed of finding a way to teach these children.
The people living here in 8-Mile come from all over PNG, with different cultures and languages. This can make it hard to live in harmony. We must deal with gender based violence, child labour and street gangs. Some people drink or use drugs. Many children miss out on education due to distances to school and parents unable to pay for bus fares and lunches.
When my father died back in 2011 I felt it was the moment to do something. My father was an inspiration to everyone who met him – he was a Christian who lived a life of service and I decided to honour his memory by being of service as he had been.
I was unemployed myself, and I only had a Grade 10 level education, but I was determined, and attended early childhood training facilitated by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and started classes for children aged six to 10 under the mango tree beside my home. We had no books or pencils but the children were happy to learn.