By SHARLYNE ERI
A WOMAN living with a disability has won a scholarship to study in Australia at the Canberra Institute of Technology.
Manoka Igo was one of the successful applicants of the Australian Awards Scholarship to study for Diploma in Community Service.
The Central woman was born normal, but at the age of four, her lower limbs were paralysed and she had to live the rest of her life in a wheelchair. In spite of that, she has lived like a normal person.
“Even though I’m like this, from an early age, I did not let my disability become a hindrance.
“I always look ahead. I am a strong believer in what I want to achieve.”
She completed her early education at Hagara Primary School and later St Michael’s Primary School in Hanuabada.
“From St Michael’s she was transferred to a school in Gaire village outside Port Moresby where she continued grades one to six.
Igo completed Grade Nine at Kwikila High School in 1975 and moved back to the village where she spent time doing household chores and engaging in church activities.
“She then took up sewing classes and starting a little sewing business to earn income.
She came in contact with a social worker in 1985, who was working for the PNG Rehabilitation Centre at that time and through him, Igo moved in and was accommodated at the centre in Port Moresby in 1986. At the beginning of 1987, she did typing classes at the Salvation Army Vocational Centre, Koki.
“After graduating she was employed by the Girl Guide’s Association as a typist.
While working as a typist, she fell in love with her friend, Hekoi Igo who is vision impaired. “We met during a disabled sports competition.
“We got married despite our parents going against it, saying we may not be able to look after ourselves and our children,” Igo said.
“We got married in 1988 and had our first daughter in 1991.”
After her second child, Igo started as a receptionist with the Cheshire Homes, as it was known back then.
“After many years with Cheshire she moved up to be the assistant manager of Cheshire DisAbility Services as it is now known.
It was at Cheshire that she was made aware of the Australian Awards Scholarships. She applied in 2014 and was accepted.
“When I return from studying, I plan to use my knowledge to help and improve existing services at Cheshire and also in rural and urban areas around PNG.
“My advice to people living like me is that education is the door to opportunities. Despite your disability go and get educated. If I was not educated, I would not be where I am today.
“I would like you to look at me as a role model.”
Like other disability services Cheshire Disability Service is helping the disabled to achieve economic and social change.
The organisation’s effort has been fortified more than ever before to reach others through a grant from the Australian Government-funded Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen programme (SPSN).
By SHARLYNE ERI