After a whirlwind 6 months with the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy and a number of other initiatives, Kate (my fiancé) and I decided it was time to take 3 weeks off and head to warmer weather. We set off to my fathers land in Papua New Guinea to meet up with my parents, older brother and my older sister and her partner.
WARNING: This is not a holiday blog post… It is a blog post about how small ideas and conversations can grow into something special
We were fortunate to spend time on my Grandfathers land at Neikonomon on the island of New Hanover – it was my first time to walk this land. We spent the majority of our time on my Grandmothers land at Lafu on New Ireland. Both islands are located in New Ireland Province, which is north of the mainland of Papua New Guinea. It is a 3 hour flight from the Capital City, Port Moresby to Kavieng the capital of New Ireland. Lafu is a very special part of the world and being surround by our extended family only adds to the sense of paradise. No electricity, no phones and no internet is easy to deal with as you slip into village life. Kate and I visited two schools in the New Ireland Province. Ussil Primary School, which is a 20 minute walk from Lafu, is a school that many of my family have or currently attend. We were asked to speak to students who were participating in a school holiday program to assemble photocopied reading books for their library. The Headmaster walked us around the small school and led us into the library, which could have been mistaken for a storage room as it contained empty shelves and old teaching resource books. Ussil has over 140 students and only a handful of reading books.
Have you ever been in a library with no books…? Until Ussil, we hadn’t.
After our time at Lafu, our family left New Ireland on a 6-hour boat ride from Kavieng to Noipoise on New Hanover. On the way we stopped at a small beach – it was the place that my father was born. Following the 6-hour boat ride, we continued up a small freshwater river to Wass and continued by foot for 40 minutes through jungle and shin deep mud to Neikonomon. My father grew up in Neikonomon and spoke very fondly of the small and beautiful village. The Neikonomon Community School had been closed for the past 3 years but a newly appointed Headmaster is breathing new life into the old school building. The school has 40 students enrolled in 2 classes but the demand for the school is much greater than the current resources can manage. Being such a remote school transporting resources is difficult and it is often overlooked by the Provincial and National Governments. Even simple things like printing or buying new stationary is a 6 – 8hr journey to Kavieng which costs fuel, boat hire, food and accommodation. Following this experience and reflecting on our own opportunities through education we have both received. Kate and I are developing Mind Garden Projects to support schools like Ussil Primary School and Neikonomon Community School. Mind Garden Projects sources and develops education resources to support literacy skills in children and teens in schools across New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. Did you know that Papua New Guinea has over 840 languages and dialects across the mainland and provinces. The common language that is spoken largely across the country is Pisin, which is derived from multiple languages; but it is common for 3 – 7 languages to be spoken by individuals. However, literacy skills among children and youth continue to be low. In 2004, the literacy rate for 15 – 24yr old men was estimated to be 64% and 59% for women. These estimations vary across location but rank lowest in remote locations.
Mind Garden Projects is an opportunity to impact the lives of children and teens in New Ireland Province to pursue the future they want by supporting their education and the teachers that inspire them. Kate and I will be launching the Mind Garden Projects crowd-sourcing campaign in August. This campaign will raise money to support our first initiatives in Ussil Primary School and Neikonomon Community School.
How can you join us?
- We are building our Website – check it out
- Like Mind Garden Projects on Facebook and invite your friends
- Follow us on Twitter
- Become an Advocate for Mind Garden Projects – Find more
- Set your calendar for the 25th August for the launch of our crowd sourcing campaign