By SHARLYNE ERI
Passion and endurance can take you places.
In the words of Benson Avea of Eastern Highlands, people do not have to be degree holders to achieve their dreams.
Sixty-two-year-old Avea, whose educational background goes as far as Grade 10, is an illustrator specialised in insect drawing.
He is employed by a non-government organisation, New Guinea Binatang in Madang.
New Guinea Binatang primarily focuses on biodiversity research in Papua New Guinea.
The researches include the study of both flora and fauna, particularly on interactions between plants and insects within forest ecosystems.
He is a contracted artist who does drawings of the flora and fauna that are studied at New Guinea Binatang.
He recently returned from Czech Republic after spending two months at the University of South Bohemia.
Avea’s drawing talent was recognised by the University of South Bohemia through several publications of New Guinea Binatang in which he was the illustrator.
He was invited by the University of South Bohemia to draw a storyboard that depicted the work of New Guinea Binatang for the Biology Centre at the university.
Avea completed his high school education at Goroka Demonstration School in the 1973.
He never took his hobby for drawing too seriously despite being told by friends and close relatives that he had a special talent in drawing.
He was told on several occasions by his close friends to apply to the University of Papua New Guinea under the Expressive Arts programme but never took too much interest.
He was unemployed for some time after completing his year 10.
After several years at home, he started work with a non-government organisation, the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project (TKCP) as a field assistant where he worked for three years.
After gaining a little knowledge on wildlife and conservation from TKCP, Avea decided to apply to Binatang Research Centre (BRC) in 2000 where he became a contracted artist of the flora and fauna that are studied at New Guinea Binatang.
Avea said his decision to finally take up his natural talent of drawing was based on the idea he had to make a difference through his drawings.
He realised that the work that New Guinea Binatang was doing was something that he always took for granted and wanted to show the world through his drawings that PNG was one of the most unique countries with some of the rare species of flora and fauna.
He acknowledged New Guinea Binatang for giving him the opportunity to travel overseas as an ambassador for the organisation and especially for the country.
“I was privileged to travel to Czech Republic. I am only a Grade 10 leaver who never thought I would travel the world one day.”
He said his storyboards of the different species of insects surprised some of the students and staff at the University of South Bohemia who had it in their minds that such species was extinct.
Avea said after visiting Czech Republic and while transiting through cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, he has taken a new perspective in his approach towards the forests and wildlife in PNG.
“I was proud to show off our flora and fauna and the good works of New Guinea Binatang to the international audience and it has made me realise how fortunate and blessed we are to have many beautiful flora and fauna.”
By SHARLYNE ERI