Godsend for the ‘neglected’

Weekender

By LISA MALOT GARE

A short scenic drive west of Port Moresby city lies Baruni village, one of the large Motuan communities that dot the coastline.
For many years now services to this part of the community have either passed them by or the villagers failed to get recognition from responsible authorities, let alone Members of Parliament.
But that is about to change as hope is slowly trickling into this community, bringing with it a sense of a bright future ahead.
Many of the village youths once known for their notorious activities are now living positive lives; some of them getting into formal training and employment. These are lifetime opportunities offered by the various companies now operating in the area.
Another such change was the recent launching of a water and sanitation project by ExonMobil for the women and girls.
According to villagers these are some of the positive things that are bringing hope to Baruni and its peripheries.
And on Wednesday, Aug 1, more good things happened there. The once neglected Baruni Elementary School received 150 desks, 300 chairs, 25 tables for teachers, courtesy of the Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI), operator of the new Motukea wharf.
These gifts were made possible through an arrangement between the Baruni Community Development Association (Bacoda) and ICTSI.
ICTSI chief executive officer Edward Muttiah said they were pleased to be able to partner the villagers to deliver such assistance and that this partnership would continue into the future.
“We are going to be around for the next 20 years so we might as well help build the communities that we operate in,” Muttiah told teachers, students and parents that gathered to witness the occasion.
He said this arrangement was outside the MOA signed with Bacoda which was purely a business arrangement.
The government-run Baruni Primary School which hosts the elementary school, was established some 20 years ago and serves the communities of Baruni, Tatana, Kanudi, Koukou as well as Roku further west along the LNG road.
For much of this period, no tangible assistance was given to the school.
This has led to its current deteriorating state and the timely assistance by the ICTSI has been hailed as a Godsend prompting the school’s board and teachers to call for appropriate government authorities to step in and assist the school as well.
Head teacher of the elementary school Amie Maraga said for too long students have been forced to sit on the floor in dusty conditions and this gesture by ITCSI now solved the problem.
“For the first time in nearly 20 years the school is seeing some form of assistance…I am grateful,” she added.
Bacoda chairman, Iduhu Erue Igo. while thanking ICTSI, appealed to the students and teachers to bring value and lift the image of the school using the new furniture.
Igo said the community in Baruni would continue to work in partnership with ICTSI to bring about changes to the communities echoing what the company planed to do for the villagers.
According to ICTSI there are plans in place to build a water supply project for Baruni, among others.
Deputy NCD Governor and chairman of the Motu-Koitabu Council, Opao Udia who also attended the occasion, said despite the country’s difficult financial situation which poses delays in TFF funding towards school and affecting smooth delivery of government services, there was always the private sector and ICTSI was one such company, to trust and lean on for assistance.
A former Baruni Primary School student himself, Udia urged the students to take education seriously saying with a good education, in a conducive environment, the future looked bright.

  •  Lisa Malot Gare is a freelance writer.

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