Local Heroes: Meeting a Community Literacy Teacher

It has been well over a year now for me at this job and I have found it to be nothing short of an eye opener for me, working in the conservation NGO circle. One interesting aspect of this job is the occasional travel to our project sites. Seeing new places and just getting away from the hectic 8-5 raucous affair that is life in the city.  Breaking this monotony is refreshing and enriching.

It’s then that every so often I get to meet some genuine people out there who are keeping it real, putting in the hard yards to help out their communities. Be it either in education or in administering health care to the sick and needy, at often times sacrificing their own comfort for others, impassive to the pressing demands of fast money, televangelists,  bubblegum music and the pursuit of opulence evident in urban centres. To them the bare essentials are what really matters.

Chris and the syllabus chart he had drawn up himself which is comprised of 19 characters out of the 26 letters of the English alphabet.

One such person I recently bumped into is Christopher Asiurina of Ogana village near Afore in the Managalas Plateau of Oro Province. Chris happens to be a Sunday school teacher, a community youth leader, a community basic constable (CBC), a peer educator and an adult literacy teacher – all volunteer work.

Going as far as Grade 8, he happens to be the only person from his clan and village to reach such a level of education. In his incessant quest to help out his community and church activities he went out of his way to buy 2 guitars for his village church congregation out of what little money he could find.

His drive was given a boost when he was taken up by Anglicare StopAIDS to undergo literacy training to translate HIV/AIDS information material into his local dialect. Using this knowledge he was able to draw up a syllabus chart for his dialect which he uses to conduct adult literacy classes in Ogana and Afore village where he’s already had a classroom built. He has 19 students, all of whom are within the 30 to 40 years age group and his initiative has enabled them to go on to read their local language bible.

His adult literacy program has had such a profound impact on the villagers, he said “Fest taim ol ridim tok ples blo ol yet na ol karai” (they cried when they were able to read in their own language for the first time).

More people from surrounding communities have since expressed their interest for him to conduct similar classes in their villages but he is hampered by need for stationary supplies and training for his 4 volunteer assistants.

This I believe is my cue. I have been looking for such opportunities to tap into to reach directly to the locals on our project site with our message of conservation and environmental awareness.  I have been fortunate enough to meet this young men and I am looking to collaborate with him in getting these vital information to a level where our village people can understand at their level.

PGIS: A Tool For Community Planning and Conservation

The following is an interview given by the Executive Director of Partners with Melanesians on the importance of adopting sound PGIS practices in Papua New Guinea. It was conducted at the Mapping for Change Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2005.

PGIS or Participatory GIS is a term used to describe the participatory creation of maps through the use of local knowledge to promote indigenous communities’ understanding about their own area beyond mere geographic formations. In so doing, it helps in actually protecting the local knowledge from being exploited by outside influences. It promotes a more open dialogue in addressing any differences and conflicts in terms of boundary issues and local understanding of spatial data by engaging the participants in this process, thereby providing an open ‘forum’ to come to a consensus. 

It can also be seen as a handy tool in practicing sustainable resource management by both the locals and organizations alike, be they NGO or company or even the government in seeing development. 

This concept was instrumental in PWM’s work on the Managalas Plateau as its main project site when it initiated the creation of a 3D model of that area, covering the entire 360 000 Ha of the Plateau. 

A more in-depth look into PGIS can be found here

Locals from all over the Managalas Plateau convene to do up a 3D Model

 

A portion of the completed 3D Model

 

… End