By KEVIN PAMBA
TIMES are tough and tough times lead people tomake difficult choices. Yet, in these trying times there are those who still give with a generous heart.
Enter East New Britain business stalwart Sandra Lau and her company, Tropicana Ltd.
In the province, Lau and Tropicana are synonymous with philanthropy.
On Thursday, Nov 30, this “small lady with a big heart” was out at the podium of the graduation hall of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) Kabaleo Teachers College campus of Divine Word University doing what she does best: making a donation to the institution.
The occasion was the 2nd combined graduation of trainee primary teachers from OLSH Kabaleo and trainee nurses from St Mary’s School of Nursing at nearby Vunapope – the two iconic Catholic institutions in ENB which amalgamated with their big sister Catholic institution, Divine Word University in 2015.
The Vice President of the DWURabaul Campus Professor Francis Hombhanjecould not contain his gratitude when he declared Lau as someone who “may be small in stature but has a big heart” for the people.
Prof Hombhanje said well-meaning people like Lau enable institutions such as DWU to continue to function and make things happen for the country.
Lau then took the stage to announce to the audience that Tropicana was donating K100,000 to DWU for the extension and renovation of the Science Laboratory at OLSH Kabaleo for trainee teachers.
That announcement brought the roof down with great applause from the graduating class of 186 teachers and 32 nurses, Rabaul campus staff, parents, visitors andattending dignitaries.
That was not all. She went on to also announce that Tropicana is sponsoring two best trainee teachers to continue onto the Bachelor of Education (Primary) program which will be offered in Kabaleo next year.
The value of the Tropicana scholarship is K8000 per student which covers costs for the one-year degree programthat is being offered to best students from the three-year diploma program.
Lau said the two scholarships totaling K16,000 were awarded to two students that the DWU Rabaul Campus judged to have met the requirements of Tropicana which include exceptional academic results, non-alcohol drinkers, non-betelnut chewers, non-smokers,exceptional leadership qualities and a community-minded outlook.
The donation of K100,000 for the science lab and K16,000 in scholarship was preceded by Lau presenting three awards to graduating teacher trainees on behalf of Tropicana Ltd. The Tropicana awards were presented to Louise Valingana for Academic Excellence, BasiliaRupa for Excellence in Practicum and Student Representative Council president Abraham Kobwata for Excellence in Leadership.
Development in education and health, according to the popular Rabaul businesswoman is best done through partnerships between the government, businesses, institutions, church and all other parties interested in the welfare of people.
“The success of this institution is a combined effort of everyone,” Lau declared.
She assured the university that for as long as she and Tropicana were around, they would continue to back DWU in ENB.
Lau or Mama Sandra, as she is popularly known, is a leading philanthropist in East New Britain. One of the biggest recipients of her goodwill is the Kerevat jail where she makes special Christmas visits every year and donates a bag of gifts to every prisoner.
Kevin Pamba is a freelance journalist.
By KEVIN PAMBA