By JINA AMBA
TWENTY-three-year-old Gerard Ivalaoa hopes to help empower and support students achieve their goals through his books.
Ivalaoa is the eldest in his family of three children and is of mixed Morobe, Gulf and Central parentage and resides at the ATS settlement in Port Moresby.
He recently published a book titled “70 reminders of Academic Excellence” and wrote it using his Wowi phone typing some 85,000 words.
Ivalaoa said growing up at a settlement near ATS (Air Transport Wing, the PNG Defence Force’s air base) he attended New Erima Primary School and in 2014 completed his eighth grade and went on to De La Salle Secondary School over the next two years for grade 9 and 10.
He was then selected to study at Port Moresby National High School and completed senior high school in 2018.
Ivalaoa achieved a grade point average (GPA) of 4.1 and was selected to study Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Technology in Lae.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the family with Ivalaoa’s father passing away that year (2018).
“After burying my father I went to Unitech, I had nothing, I just took the government ticket, I was in AES and I had no school fee, I was trying to leave school during the first week but my friends who passed out with me at Port Moresby National High School supported me, contributed and paid off my school fee and I studied,” he said.
But studying computer science and mathematics was not what Ivalaoa wanted to do; he said he chose the course because he wanted to honour his father who wanted him to study that area.
“I then decided to switch to study law during the second semester so that’s what I did,” Ivalaoa said.
After completing his first year at Unitech, Ivalaoa returned to Port Moresby and applied for law in 2020, but, he was rejected so he went to his village and re-applied for academic year 2021 but was rejected for a second time.
“I started writing my book when I was in Unitech in 2019,”he said.
“I was inspired to write because I was concerned about issues affecting students and their studies.
“I wrote several articles for the PNG Facts website when I was a student.
“I also took part in Unitech inter-departmental debate and that really inspired me to write more articles, so I was writing more political articles about the country.”
With an increased interest in politics, Ivalaoa did what any budding writer would do, he read up on his subject.
“I started reading books on anthropology, political science and law, that’s why I decided to study law.”
Ivalaoa said talking to young people was something he was passionate about.
He said he took the hardships he went through growing up and the ones he faced presently as examples and inspiration for his talks.
“I go around in the church and when they give me an opportunity to speak, I encourage young people,” he said.
Ivalaoa said almost all his preaches were message for young people.”
He said after his talks parents would usually approach him and thank him for his message and even ask him for advice for their children and also bring assignments for him to help them with.
Ivalaoa’s advice was not just related to school work but also on personal problems about family issues at home and other practical issues regarding study.
This, in turn, made him realise he could help people.
“If I can encourage five students in my street, imagine the impact of writing a book that would touch the lives of students around the country and across the Pacific so I decided to sit down and write,” he said.
“The first title of my book was Precious life.” After completing the book he could not find a publisher, so undaunted Ivalaoa wrote a second book ‘70 reminders of Academic Excellence’ which was published recently.
“The great challenge for me to write this book as a first time author, wasn’t the writing, it was the publication.
“Ideas were just flowing as I was writing but the challenge was typing. I had this Wowi phone that had a cracked screen and we didn’t have electricity in the house so it was really hard.”
Despite this, Ivalaoa soldiered on determined to write his book and it took him two months to complete typing his 85,000 word manuscript.
Along the way he received help from friends and church members who saw the potential in his endeavour, his hard work and his commitment to the cause.
Ivalaoa said he is distributing
his book himself with requests
for copies from New Ireland,
East New Britain, Western and Morobe.
“I am selling the books for K50, I believe K50 is the cheapest and affordable for such a book that is resourceful to motivate, encourage, advise and enhance the ability of students to study.”
Ivalaoa’s mother is currently unemployed and lives in Gerehu with her new husband while he lives with his brother in their family home at ATS.
He said the money he makes from his book would pay for his university studies but that was not his intention for writing the book.
“To write this book for school fees wasn’t my intention but rather it was to get the message and motivation across to the students which was my intention.”
Ivalaoa said he was engaged in the business of selling his book and was learning a lot.
He was also thankful and felt blessed that he had been able to achieve his goal.
“The money that I get from the sales of the book will help pay the school fees of my siblings and also my cousins too,” he said.
Ivalaoa said he was currently working on his second and third books.
“My second book is titled Be the change and my third book is Born to concur.”
By JINA AMBA