By PETER WARI
GRADE 10 dropout Thomas Dara, 55, of Koroba-Kopiago district in Hela, is today the officer in charge of the radiology department at the Mendi Provincial Hospital in Southern Highlands.
Not bad for someone who fought his way back to the top after dropping out of the education system in the colonial administration days.
“I am a satisfied man today. I acknowledge the struggle I faced in my young days. God’s plan in our lives come at His own time. The key is to remain focused and never allow anything to distract one from one’s pursuit of success.”
Thomas is the eldest of three siblings from Kangoea village in the Luguni Valley. He is now married with eight children.
In 1973, he started his education journey, walking for about four hours to attend the Hiwanda Primary School in Hayapuga, Tari-Pori.
He completed Grade Six in 1978 and was selected to the Koroba High School. But he dropped out after completing Grade 10 in 1982.
“I then went to Christian Leaders Training College in Jiwaka to work as a casual laborer from 1983 to 1985. I started learning how to earn money through hard work.
“While at high school, I used to work for teachers collecting their firewood and doing general household duties.”
In 1986, Thomas was accepted to undergo radiography training to become an X-ray technician at the Kudjip Nazarene Hospital. He completed the training in 1989.
From 1990 to 1992, he worked at the Sopas Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital in Enga as an X-Ray technician.
Thomas wanted to undertake further studies to upgrade his skills. So he enrolled at the College of Allied Health Science (now University of PNG medical faculty) from 1993 to 1994. He graduated with a certificate and returned to work in the hospital.
“I worked at the hospital until a tribal fight nearby forced me to travel to the Mendi Hospital to take up a casual job there in 1998.”
In 2003, he was confirmed as a public servant and worked as
“I acknowledge the struggle I faced in my young days. The key is to remain focused and never allow anything to distract one from one’s pursuit of success.”
an assistant in the department.”
In 2009, he was sponsored by the Health Department to take up a course at the UPNG Medical Faculty, enhancing his skills on X-Ray technology. He graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor in Medical Imaging Science degree, becoming a medical imaging technologist. Thomas was offered the radiology position at the Mendi Hospital in 2013.
Today, he has a staff of three in the department, and plans to get six more medical imaging technologists to work at the Pimaga, Ialibu and Nipa district hospitals. There will also be an ultrasound scan station installed at the provincial hospital soon.
“I have experience in using different types of x-ray machines including the Acoma, Toshiba, Sumadzu, Philips brands and the latest Chinese product donated to the province by the Chinese Government.”
His word of advice to school dropouts is to never lose hope nor give up and to look around for opportunities.
“If you are given a small job to do, work hard at it. Your supervisor in Heaven will promote you. The Bible says (Colossians 3:22): You are servants owned by someone. Obey your owners. Work hard for them all the time.”
Thomas knows that God rewards those who work hard in various ways.
“Nothing is impossible with God!”