By DOROTHY MARK
PAUL Kumo, 48, from Chimbu, broke into smiles and was a happy man when 59 students at the Karkar Vocational School graduated last week.
They graduated with national certificate in fisheries and carpentry.
When Kumo first arrived at Ngor village on Karkar Island, the school was covered in thick vegetation and there was nothing on the ground to indicate an established school.
He has taught and managed schools in other provinces, especially Catholic schools where lawns were mowed and flowers planted in tidy rows.
Kumo said he started off the trip to Karkar Island in Dec 2013 with a bad experience when a small dinghy, also travelling to Karkar that day, fell off and was never found.
When they arrived, Kumo and wife Pauline were confronted with the thick jungle — the school ground.
When service providers heard that a new manager had arrived, they confronted him with various claims of services provided that totalled up to K52,000.
Kumo was taken in for questioning at the Kinim police station.
He said the school had only K257 at the time and could do nothing to settle the debt created by the past school management.
“At that time I broke down and wanted to scream my head off,” Kumo said. “This is not my home in Simbu, I’m somewhere in the middle of the Bismarck ocean and alone, without my family to support me.”
His wife contributed K4000 from her personal savings and they used students and villagers to clear the school ground.
Kumo said now they have a few more classrooms and teachers’ houses.
“In bad times and good times Karkar vocational will still stand,” Kumo said.
He said students who graduated with certificates in fisheries would undergo three-month training at the Fisheries College in Kavieng under the National Fisheries Authority programme.
By DOROTHY MARK