By ELIAS LARI
MONGOMA and Gambagogl villages tower over Kundiawa in Simbu.
From the villages, the scene below is quite breathtaking.
Last Sunday, Mongoma village was graced by visitors such as Simbu provincial administrator Joe Kunda Naur, former Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina, Michael Kiene, Father Simon Kewande the priest of St Mary’s parish in Kundiawa and locals from Mongoma.
The occasion was not to take in the sights from that vantage point. They were there as guests of Josephine Siure to witness the final of a volleyball competition she sponsored for women and girls from Mongoma.
A total of 14 teams participated in the games over two months. Last Sunday was the finals and saw Gere Mamas defeating Maunten Mamas two sets to nil. In the girls’ contest, Raiders defeated Yumi Yet two sets to one.
Members of the police mobile squad from Kerowagi and the Simbu Motorbike Association also watched the competition.
It was a fun-filled day. But for even the new-comers to the area, you would immediately notice that under the façade of the laughter and smiles, things weren’t right at the village.
Almost the next youth you see out there is glassy eyed, scruffy and looks like he or she was under the influence of drugs or homebrew.
It hangs like a shroud over Mongoma. Years ago, Mongoma was not like this.
Permanent houses lined the Mongoma plateau. There was no power but locals had generators and lit up the area at night.
The sights in the evenings were something to behold.
And like moths attracted to light, residents of Kundiawa frequented the village to enjoy the Mongoma hospitality on weekends.
Many such outings resulted in guys getting Mongoma girls. But that is another story.
Then election-related tribal fight erupted.
Modern homes at Mongoma were razed. People scattered. And today, many prominent people who originate from Mongoma no longer feel safe to go back and build homes up there.
This has resulted in a spell where the people from the area who have grown up in recent times feel no sense of leadership to guide them.
That was why Siure decided to sponsor this event.
“I was hoping that this would serve as a catalyst to drive other development agendas,” Siure said.
“And I can’t say how overwhelmed I am at the turnout by very prominent people like our administrator Joe Kunda and Moses Maladina to name a few.”
Maggie Teine, the coordinator of the non-formal education sector in Simbu, told the people that there were training opportunities for mothers.
“I congratulate Josey (Siure) for her efforts in organising this event,” Teine said.
“But I will talk with Josey later to devise means by which we can see what kind of trainings we could offer the mothers and young women here.”
Kunda invited Siure to discuss with provincial health officers in Kundiawa to organise training for women.
There is a school at Mongoma along with an aid post.
Kunda has already requested for a teacher to be sent there and will follow up on that.
He also mentioned that he will look at ensuring that one or two more community health workers are brought in to serve the people there.
“As for your road up here, the provincial government has already appropriated some funds for the gravelling of the road and this should commence once funding becomes available,” Kunda said.
One thing he wants to see is for the people to embrace change and begin the change in themselves.
Kunda said what Siure did was an attempt at changing the mindset of the people.
But if the very people to which the changes were intended for do not appreciate or accept development, they will remain disillusioned and confused.
Maladina topped up the cash prizes that the participating teams won and told them he was happy to be part of the grand final celebrations.
And if all goes well with the first seeds of changes being planted now, obviously the next time you visit Mongoma you’d enjoy the fruits of such an investment in getting to change the mindsets of people to be better citizens.
By ELIAS LARI