By MALUM NALU
Evening in Kwikila, district headquarters of Rigo, Central.
It’s Saturday, Feb 9, and the place is looking picture-perfect after the rains.
The sun is setting over the hills, which are so green after the rains, as 30 young people from Bulolo, Morobe, step out of their bus.
They look around, excited local tourists, absorbing the sights and sounds of Kwikila.
Kwikila, their home away from home, is a beautiful place.
The pretty and historic government station will be their home this year as they undergo community health worker training (CHW) here.
They arrive from Lae earlier today and are taken up to Kwikila by their MP and Government minister, Sam Basil, to the new Kwikila Training Institute (KTI) where they will be trained as CHWs.
Morobe provincial health advisor Micah Yawing accompanies the students from Lae.
The students are welcomed by Rigo MP Lekwa Gure and district development authority chief executive officer Koru Abe.
Basil explains the population in rural areas such as Bulolo is growing and accessing health facilities is becoming increasingly difficult.
“In Bulolo district, we have decided in our development plan that out of the 110 wards areas, we must have one community health worker present,” he says.
“This is the beginning of reaching the target of 110 wards.
“This year, we have got 30 students coming here.
“While they are at school, we will identify their ward areas and aid post, so that after they graduate they will return to their own villages to serve.
“We will continue to do this over the next four years to reach the target of 110 graduates from this institute.
“In the long term, we will look at replacements for the 110, as well as refresher training for those community health workers who have completed training here.
“I’m very happy, because in the past, I’ve been looking for places to train our community health workers.
“I went as far as Aitape (West Sepik), to Braun Health Centre (Finschhafen, Morobe), but they could only give me five spaces.”
Basil says he met KTI executive-director Lalau Burana in Port Moresby and it became reality.
“We found 30 students, paid them some allowance and air fares, on the condition that they will go back to the district,” he says.
It’s also a means of forging closer relationships between people of Rigo and Bulolo districts, Central and Morobe provinces, this unique partnership.
Rigo in Central and Bulolo in Morobe have now joined hands in partnership to train their young people.
MPs Gure and Basil announce this as the 30 young people from Bulolo arrive in Kwikila to undergo CHW training.
They will be trained at the new KTI as CHWs and go back and serve Bulolo.
Gure, who is a member of Basil’s Pangu Pati, says this marks the beginning of a partnership between the two districts.
Basil says Bulolo will reciprocate by training Rigo alluvial miners.
Bulolo, as we all know, is home of mining in past, present and future with Wafi-Golpu.
Basil says his district will sponsor 15 students from Rigo to undergo alluvial mining training at Small Scale Mining Training Centre in Wau.
“We want to create this Rigo-Bulolo relationship,” Basil says.
We talk about ‘sister city’ relationships.
Rigo and Bulolo, in what could be a first in this country, are into a ‘sister-district’ relationship.
Carol Tongoliong, from Watut, is one of the group of 11 young women and 19 men in this first batch of Bulolo students.
“We come from Watut, Buang, Mumeng, Wau, Biaru and Waria,” she tells me.
“We are happy to come here to Rigo and train to become community health workers.”
This could be just what the doctor ordered for Bulolo.
By MALUM NALU