By JEFFREY ELAPA
WHEN he completed Grade 12 at home in Southern Highlands in 2010, no tertiary institution accepted Simon Mathew Dia to further his education.
The future looked bleak for the son of a catechist from Yarena village in Kewabi, Ialibu-Pangia district.
He had completed his lower primary education at Muli Primary school in 2004, then completed his upper primary at Pale Primary School in 2006. Both schools in Kewabi in the Ialibu-Pangia district.
He then went on to Ialibu High School where he completed lower secondary in 2008 and Grade 12 in 2010.
He did not want to stay in the village so in December 2010, he decided to leave his family and relatives at Yarena village to look for work in the mining town of Tabubil in Western.
He managed to secure a job there as a security guard. But he got and left that job in June 2012. He tracked through the jungle to Telefomin in West Sepik looking for something else to do.
He scaled the “Hiddenberg wall”, the mountain that separates Western and West Sepik, and arrived in Telefomin after two days.
“ I will live and serve as a teacher in Telefomin until I grow old and cannot move anymore.”
He stayed in a village which current Telefomin MP Solan Mirisim comes from, a few kilometres outside the town.
While there, he was told of a teacher training sponsorship programme initiated by Mirisim for Grade 12 students in the district who want to be trained as primary school teachers.
The condition is that after the training, they must return to Telefomin to teach there.
Although Simon was not from Telefomin, he was accepted to be trained as a teacher at the Madang Teachers College in 2014.
He graduated in 2016 and returned to Telefomin as per the condition of the scholarship.
He taught in 2017 and 2018 at the Tifalmin Primary, a remote school located on the border with Western and West Papua in Indonesia.
Early this year, he was posted to the remote Eliptamin Primary School between Telefomin and the Frieda River gold and copper mine in West Sepik.
He did not mind being posted to the remote schools as at least he now has a job as a teacher. And more importantly, he wanted to pay back what he owes Telefomin, especially MP Solan.
“I don’t think my province would have given me such an opportunity. I would be now just an ordinary village man. I owe it to the great leader and his people and I will continue to serve my term in Telefomin.”
He will forever be grateful to MP Mirisim, the district administration and the people of Telefomin for giving him a second chance in life.
“I owe it to them so I will continue serve them as that is the only way I can repay them.”
MP Solan went a step further and paid for the airfare of Simon’s wife to come to Telefomin. He also paid for Simon’s airfare to see Port Moresby.
No wonder Simon’s loyalty lies totally with Telefomin. He knows he owes them a lot. And one way to pay it back is to serve as a teacher in the district for as long as possible.
“I will live and serve as a teacher in Telefomin until I grow old and cannot move anymore.”