When we first visited Paiga in 2006 there was no school in the community. The nearest one was at Kabuye over an hour’s walk away up a steepclimb . The children from Paiga had to walk to and from here daily and it’s no surprise that many often didn’t get there. They would leave around 7 o’clock in the morning and return in the early evening. Some of the young girls were kept behind at home because their parents were afraid of letting them walk back in the darkening hours. Not unexpectedly many of the younger children were often tired and their schoolwork suffered.
When we went back in 2007, we were excited to hear that the community had had enough of this and had built their own school. It’s not far from the site of the new clinic and is within no more than fifteen to twenty minutes walk for the most distant of its pupils.
The school buildings are basic: thatch roof and walls, thatch matting on the floors; benches and desks made from forest trees. It was a rainy day when we visited, and the only classroom without any matting on the floor at all was the kindy class – kids sitting there on wet clayey earth. It didn’t take much for us to buy some matting in town and send it back.
So, we began raising funds and material for the school as well. Since then we have built a library and teachers’ room attached and stocked it with books we collected back in Australia. The community insisted that they wanted books in English language so the children could learn the language that they would need in later life
In 2010 the school achieved gazettal as a community school with the Department of Education which means the school now gets access to supplies and in-service training through the Department.
We have also supplied the school with a water tank to collect rainwater rather than having the kids run down to the river and haul it up, and also a movable concrete-based pit toilet designed by AT Projects.
You can support our work by donating now.
You can also support us by buying a bilum (a shoulder bag) made by women from the communities.