I’m still busy doing teaching training with Lilly and Gregory, and they are both doing well. One evening after Gregory taught, I was giving him some feedback and he said he is learning a lot from our collaboration. When I asked him what he meant he said that in his experience teachers just stand in front of the class and give information, but he is learning this new way of teaching where we explain things, interact with the children, and help them discover ideas and concepts for themselves. That was a significant moment for me. I felt it was tangible evidence that the idea of passing on skills can make a difference.
John Gartner, Kiunga, PNG
I am organizing the construction of 2 double classrooms and 2 teachers’ houses at Aiambak. It is an all-day dinghy voyage from Kiunga, requiring a minimum of 200 litres of fuel.
Elementary schools in PNG are poorly resourced. Teachers are paid by the government, but the community is expected to supply the school, usually very rudimentary buildings of bush materials.
I met the locals in the Men’s House and we agreed on the important things, like how to manage the donated tools and the need to obtain sand from the river bed, as there were no funds to import gravel for the foundation from Port Moresby or Kiunga.
At the jetty, a crew arrived by helicopter to do the advanced work for a storage shed for Ok Tedi Mining Ltd and a passenger terminal for the new FLY Hope ferry. The Australian with them came over and we swapped stories about our projects. They shot some levels and took off after a half hour. I walked back to Aiambak, about 3 kilometres away. The contrast in project budgets and resources was stark.
Kernah Foster, Tarawa, Kiribati
In Kiribati, you encounter the most amazing stories. I met a teacher named Ienimoa Kiatoa. He walks with an obvious difficulty. When I enquired about his health, he told me he was lost at sea for three months. He and his friends were studying ocean nutrient levels when their boat ran out of fuel and drifted out into the open ocean. He was so dehydrated and was falling into a deep sleep. His friends thought that he was dead and were about to throw him into the ocean when they saw there were sharks circling them at the time. They were worried that throwing the body into the ocean may cause the sharks to attack them. So they kept him in the boat until they were rescued by a Taiwanese fishing boat near PNG. His health was badly affected and he was no longer able to continue his study. When he returned to Tarawa, he was snatched up by Immaculate Heart to teach science.