BY JAMIE HARO
WHEN Andrew Miugle graduated last week at the PNG Education Institute with a diploma in early childhood care, he thought about his big sister Kina at their Madime village in Kundiawa-Gembogl, Chimbu.
He dedicated his academic achievement to her, thanking her for her sacrifice to pay his school fees when their parents were unable to.
“My eldest sister is the strongest (family member) I know. She has been there for me (throughout). She would have got married (but) chose to first help her siblings succeed in life.”
Kina could not attend the graduation ceremony with their parents as they were in the village. Andrew, 22, had to share his big moment with close relatives living in Port Moresby.
Like many who were brought up in rural areas and relied heavily on subsistence farming to survive, he did not have much to fall back on in his education journey.
He attended elementary school in the village before going on to Barengigl Primary School and Barengigl High School located in the next village.
He was then accepted to complete grades 11 and 12 at the Mt Wilhem Secondary School before enrolling at the institute.
Andrew was among the 59 students who received their Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education (pre-service) at the institute.
He had initially wanted a career in human resource management and applied for the relevant course at the University of Technology in Lae.
When his application was rejected, he thought of going back to the village and improve his marks through FODE.
But he changed his mind and considered his next best option – to pursue a Diploma in Early Childhood Care and Education programme at the institute. He did not regret that decision.
“My family put me through different schools in the district. I didn’t think I would end up in the institute.
But it was God’s plan that I ended up here.”
“ My eldest sister is the strongest (family member) I know. She has been there for me (throughout). She would have got married (but) chose to first help her siblings succeed in life.”
He is the fourth eldest in a family of six. His father is a retired school teacher. His mother tends the gardens.
When his parents were unable to pay his school fees, big sister Kina, who Andrew looks up to as defacto “head” of the family, stepped in – not only for Andrew but all the siblings.
She operates a small trade store at the village to support the family.
In Port Moresby, Andrew teamed up with cousin brother Damien Kagl, who is pursuing a Bachelor in Journalism and Public Relations programme at the University of PNG, doing casual jobs during their free time to meet their daily expenses. They help each other out to survive in the big city.
Their relatives in Port Moresby support them whenever they can.
Andrew and Damien have been close since their childhood days, attending the same schools in Chimbu.
Andrew is still interested in re-visiting his plan for a career in human resource management. But for now, he wants to make use of the diploma in early childhood education he has, and find a job.
He wants to earn an income and then save some money to pursue other education plans.
“Some would say, at last, I have finally achieved my goals. But for me, this is just a beginning of my journey. I am looking forward to taking on more challenges along the way so that I can achieve my dream job.”
Big sister Kina is proudly watching his progress from the village, knowing that one day, Andrew will come back to shake her hand, and together they can help their other siblings achieve their goals too.