By CLARISSA MOI
WITH the hope to inspire young people to become active citizens in the community, 23-year-old Kurere Matanzana initiated a cleaning project for Madang.
Kurere said it was initiated when he was attending Tusbab Secondary School and five years on, the cleanathon became an annual event with hundreds of people around town participating.
He is from a mixed parentage of Madang, Morobe, Eastern Highlands, West Sepik and Chimbu and is studying economics at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG).
Kurere is passionate about serving the rural, youth and marginalised people. He completed his secondary education at Tusbab in 2017 and was selected to study at UPNG the following year.
He said back then, it was only the students of Tusbab who usually did the clean-ups every Friday afternoon, however the cleanathon held last month saw more than 200 people taking time out to show their support.
“We were so blessed and fully equipped to carry out any community projects as students because of the empowerment and moral support that we get from the school administration, especially the principal of Tusbab Secondary School, Alphonse Igag,” Kurere recalls.
“I came up with the initiative because I wanted to inspire the young people to become active citizens, positive role models for their younger ones and help train them to become problem solvers themselves by not only identifying social, economic, health, education and environment issues but also give a helping hand in providing some solution and add value to their communities.
“When I became the student representative council president of Tusbab, the movement was cemented even more.
“I normally led almost the entire school every Friday afternoon to collect rubbish and advocate for a clean and safe town.
“The spirit of patriotism in taking ownership and responsibility over our province and society continues on with me into my university days at UPNG.
“It was in 2018 when I did my first year that I was introduced to and got engaged with a non-governmental organisation that helps young people, The Voice Inc.
“Since then, The Voice has been very supportive towards my initiatives in Madang through the grants they have been giving me.”
Kurere had two projects running in Madang; the cleanathon and the Students Tutoring Students projects in which he uses the slogan “Niupela Madang, Niupela PNG” to promote these initiatives.
He said last year, he received K5,000 for the Students Tutoring Students project for which he engaged students attending UPNG, Pacific Adventist University (PAU), PNG University of Technology and the University of Goroka to tutor and mentor secondary school students, and the cleanathon project.
He said the first part of the project was completed, which is the annual Christmas general cleanathon where all citizens of Madang were involved.
“We organised the cleanup on Wednesday Dec 23, 2020.
“The team started off from Nabassa Road at around 11am and ended everything in town at around 1:30pm before heading up to Kalibobo for their lunch and photo-shoot.”
Kurere was grateful to the partnership of Sigma Construction, Tusbab Secondary School and Bethlehem Baptist Church for providing transportation, bags and water.
He also acknowledged the UPNG Madang Students Association, mothers’ groups, youths, kids and all the citizens of Madang for their contributions and support in showing up and actually getting the job done.
“I call on every educated and informed citizen to train and mentor the youth and kids of Madang on how to become active citizens and encourage them to actively participate in the development of their districts and province.
“Inspire and empower them by giving them this kind of platform so they get to embrace it and become the change they wish to see in Madang.
“Let them know that they’re an important stakeholder in their district and that their voices matter.”
Dean of Bethlehem Bible Institute Pastor David Patuk said he was pleased to see that the town area and the main Modilon Road were clean and has called on the town authorities, especially councilors and leaders to step in and support the next cleanathon.
“Youths need such activities during Christmas to keep them busy and prevents them from the consumption of harmful substances,” Ps Patuk said.