ELDERS including retired soldiers from a village in Makham District, Morobe recently initiated a fund-raising drive aimed at improving school infrastructure in their communities.
For ex-soldiers Kiramu Kamoang and Paul Bogan, the sight of an incomplete teacher’s housing standing there for two years was enough motivation for them to do something.
The realised that the community was either not taking any responsbility to complete the teachers house or simply needed somone to lead them in doing something for their school.
They decided to get together other elders from their Zumangurum village at the foot of the hills behind the Leron Plains to put together a plan of action.
The elders who are aged 60 years and above planned a major fund-raising event to complete the work on the staff house and also assist the three elementary schools that feed Zumangurum Primary School with students every year.
They decided that Independence Day this year was the best time to bring together the communities around the school to celebrate and at the same time contribute financially to the school schools.
Preparations for the event began days earlier and the communities were engaged to fence the community oval, build market stalls and a grand stand. The villagers also contributed garden produce for the event. There were even volunteers who kept order in case celebrations on the day got a little out of hand.
Using their army connections, Kamoang and Borgan, contacted the commanding officer of the PNG Defence Force Igam Barracks in Lae to deploy a party to join the community in celebrating Independence Day.
On the day, the soldiers and the local SDA youths led in the flag raising and lowering ceremonies which included a gun salute.
Later the soldiers staged a mock battle as the Zumangurum, Bagabuan and Siriwarang villages performed traditional dances, and students from the elementary and primary schools played games.
Guests on the day included former Markham MP Andrew Baing and other community leaders.
The Zumangurum mini show ran from Sept 15 to 16.
Funds raised will be used on the staff house at the primary school which enrolls students from Zumangurum, Bagabuang and Wafipampun elementary schools.
The celebrations of the country’s independence anniversary was a special occasion for the communities because it provided them an opportunity to come together with a common mission to raise money to improve education infrastructure in the area. It was a moment enjoyed by school children and the communities.
And for the elders involved, it was indeed a rewarding experience because they have been able to do something themselves to show the younger generations a spirit of self-reliance.
The success of the event initiated by the elders has motivated others to contribute meaningfully to ther community’s development.
-Words and pictures by Andy Lucas