BY PETER DANIELS
Pindiu is at the foot of the Cromwell Range in the Finschhafen district of Morobe Province. It is a small station built around an old airstrip on two and a half hectares of sloping mountainside.
Travelling to Pindiu from Lae is very expensive. From Lae to Finchhafen costs K80 for the Lutheran shipping passengers. From Gagidu travelling by road up to Pindiu is K70. And you would have to spend roughly K50 on food and buai, totalling about K200 for the trip.
Well the adventure gets interesting because the road trip actually ends at Silamana which is roughly still a half day’s walk from Pindiu. Actually the first time it took me one heck of a whole days walk.
The passenger trucks can’t travel past Silamana because the road is in very bad condition. So I stayed the night and began walking at 6 o’clock in the morning. By the time I got to Mongi River it was three in the afternoon. And from Mongi River to Pindiu Station it took me approximately another 6 hours to get there. By 9pm I arrived at the newly built Pindiu High School.
Most of the populated villages are located beyond Pindiu and most people depend on coffee as the main cash crop for income. I have witnessed villagers carrying bags of coffee beyond Pindiu, passed Pindiu to Mongi and up to Silamana.
I learnt they have been doing that for more than six years now. There is huge untapped potential in coffee to boost the economy of Finschhafen that I have seen ignored. There are many closed trade stores in the villages because it has become impossible to transport goods in bulk up to the station.
With the few struggling retailers that are still operating, the cost of goods sold is so shockingly expensive.
The nearest health facility is the Wagazaring Health Centre. It has lacked proper facilities and medical supplies for more than six years now.
On 5 March I witnessed a girl who was bitten by a snake. There was no supply of anti-venom when she was taken to Wagazaring health centre for treatment. On the way down to Pindiu the girl died.
On my way back to Lae, I accompanied a fellow teacher and his pregnant wife. The husband is a teacher at Pindiu High School and the wife is a teacher at Pindiu Primary School.
We had to walk the distance from Pindiu all the way to Silamana. The reason the couple went down was for the pregnant wife to get better maternal treatment and proper health care before, during and after labour.
Pindiu High School this year has registered about 300 students. They come from as far as Dedua, Mindik, Burum, Lalang, Gain and also the surrounding nearby Pindiu villages. The school is a boarding school which only takes Grade 9 and 10. There are two bush material and two permanent classrooms.
There are two bush material dormitories for male and female students respectively. The mess is a semi-permanent building. The Pindiu LLG contributed four old permanent houses to the school that is now used as teachers’ houses. The administration office is a permanent building.
I taught English to Grade 9. It is sad I cannot teach them the Grade 9 curriculum so I have to improvise at a level of Grade 5 or 6. You have to speak in English and then translate in Tok Pisin in order to really know if they understand what you mean.
There are no resources so we have to make use of what we have at hand. There are three Grade 9 classes and two Grade 10 classes. The place is understaffed so we have to take double subjects and even taking subjects we are not specialised in.
I just hope that the head teacher won’t ask me to teach science in the next couple of weeks because I have no idea of this subject but I will pray that God will help me to help these students.
It doesn’t matter whether I am from Pindiu or not I will give my best with the help of God. I would like to encourage young teachers especially those who are not married to go out to the remote schools and serve. The students and the people need you.
People in the remote villages are kind people. There is food and a good community around you. You do not realise that you are the most needed until you get there.