WErise: Doney Kuman – Success through Faith & Discipline


Not many ordinary kids in Papua New Guinea, or adults for that matter, would choose a Wednesday night church fellowship over the beloved NRL state of origin game. Her response to her family as she heads off to church would be “enjoy and bring me back my dinner”.

As young as 10 years old, this faithful young girl never missed a Sabbath at church. One of her favourite verses in the Bible is from Isaiah 40:29-31 which reads; “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

One of the very reasons her father restored his faith and returned to the Lord was by seeing his daughter’s commitment and faithfulness in serving God.

Born to a Simbu father and Eastern Highlands mother, Doney Kuman attended Asaroka Lutheran Primary School in Goroka to do her grades 1-4. She later moved to Tabubil where she now calls home to do grades 5-7 at Tabubil Primary School and later transferred to Goroka Grammar School with her older sister to do grades 8-10, where they studied and lived as boarding students. After Goroka Grammar School, Doney went to another boarding school, this time in Australia where she attended St Saviours College with her younger sister to complete her grades 11 and 12.

Before the start of every new school term, it was a family tradition for the Kuman’s to reflect on the last term and discuss goals for the new school term. Subject areas of weakness would be highlighted and encouraged to improve and strengths would be acknowledged. Doney’s father woud speak to all his children about the importance of education and having good grades in school. He would also use this opportunity to emphasize on their family motto which was: “Put God First and everything else will fall into place”. 

Growing up in the mining township of Tabubil has had the biggest influence in Doney’s life. By the time she reached grade 5 Doney already knew what she wanted to become – a Geologist. So from then on, she started working  hard in school to make sure she got into university to fulfil her goal.

Through all her hard work and dedication in her primary and high school years, Doney fulfilled her dream when she got accepted into the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) in Port Moresby to study Earth Science. 

During the 4 years of her university life, Doney spent it on school work, church and family. One would probably say she had no life but for Doney she says;

when you know what you want in life, everything else becomes a blur. Whatever I perceived as something that could potentially affect my studies, I steered clear. Some of these distractions were boys, partying/clubbing, having too many friends. I was very disciplined back then, I limited my group of friends – I was very picky. I only made friends with people that can have a good influence on my life and vice versa”. 

“My word of advice to those who are currently in uni, know your purpose in life. Know why you are there (in uni) and where you are going after uni. If you are unsure, ask God, talk to your friends, seek counselling. Once you figure that out, let nothing stand in your way. Cut lose unnecessary distractions and focus on your goals so you can fulfill your God-ordained purpose in life”.

At the start of her final year of university, Doney prayed and wrote down her ideal 5 year plan. She envisioned her plan to actualize in this order:

  1. Graduate from University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) – 1 year
  2. Get recruited by Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) under its Graduate Development Scheme (GDS)  – 2 yrs
  3. Apply for a scholarship and get a Masters Degree  – 2 yrs

Doney successfully completed 4 years at UPNG and got recruited by Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) in the Western Province under the Graduate Development Scheme, just like how she had envisioned. She kick-started her career with OTML for 3 months and was later stood down due to the dry spell that hit PNG in 2015. Doney returned to the site in Tabubil around October/November of 2015 and picked up from where she had left.

In November of 2017 Doney completed her graduate program with Ok Tedi and graduated as a Graduate Geotechnical Engineer. 

Doney’s education journey did not end there. In 2016 while she was in the second year of her graduate program with OTML, Doney decided to give the New Zealand (NZ) Scholarship a go. She remembered her 5 year plan and with a strong desire to further her studies, Doney applied for the NZ Scholarship. It was a bit of a stressful process faced with some doubts and uncertainties, especially during the different stages of the application process however, despite the challenges Doney eventually got through to the top and was granted her scholarship to study in New Zealand.

Being a post-graduate scholar, Doney had to meet certain expectations and requirements from the NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade to study at the University of Waikato. There was a cut-off grade that was expected to maintain throughout the course of her studies so that meant there was no time for slacking off for Doney. Doney had to bring her A-game into her studies which was her top priority. 

Since she also wanted to explore and get the most out of New Zealand during her stay, finding the right balance and maintaining that balance in her studies, work and social life; (which consisted of attending church, working out at the gym and socialising with friends), was paramount. 

Spending the 18 months of her scholarship program in New Zealand was one of the best parts in Doney’s adult life. Doney got to immerse herself in New Zealand’s diverse and amazing culture. She travelled to so many beautiful places, met so many wonderful people and made some long lasting connections. Even to this day, some of the friends she made are ones  that Doney holds dear to her heart.

Master of Science in Earth Science Degree – item number 3 on Doney’s 5 year plan – Checked. By the grace of God, as Doney claims, she achieved all three items on her 5 year plan, in not 5 but in 6 years. 

In December of 2019, Doney was privileged to join the OTML Mine Geotechnical & Hydrogeology Team as a Contract Geotechnical Engineer. She is attached with the Geotech Design Team. For Doney, every day at work is not the same.

Doney tells us; 

“You can go to work with set targets and what you want to achieve for the day but most times there are surprises hurled at you so you just have to be ready to adjust your plans and tackle the most urgent and important tasks first. The important thing is to approach any sort of tasks, whether planned or unplanned with the right attitude to enable a good outcome”. 

Doney has grown to love her work and what she does. She likes the challenges her job gives her because it drives her to push beyond her limitations and allows her to perform to the best of her abilities. Since returning from her postgraduate studies in New Zealand, Doney has developed a hunger for learning. She finds that working in a highly stressful environment such as OTML requires her to be on top of her game and for Doney, she loves that because this means she doesn’t stop learning new things.

Apart from doing her regular 12 hour shift at work, Doney loves working out at the gym, going to church, spending time with her family and catching up on some well deserved sleep. 

Doney doesn’t have to look far for a role model. She quotes; 

“My Dad is my role model. I admire his love for God. He is highly driven and motivated and is passionate about serving and helping people. He inspires me to dream big, to work hard and to achieve my goals. He gave me the best advice and that is to Humble yourself, work hard, start at the bottom and work your way up”.

28 year old Doney is a great example of a well disciplined and self driven young woman who is committed to her goals and dreams in life. Her faith and belief in God combined with her focus and dedication in her education, and her job have tremendously shaped her life.

From humble beginnings of wanting to get good grades at school and making her parents proud, Doney’s story exudes courage from a young woman who is motivated and determined to succeed.

Doney would like to share this encouragement with her fellow PNG Sisters; 

“You are capable of doing more and becoming more. Set your goals, dream big and commit everything into God’s hands. If it is His will, your dreams will become a reality”.

Doney Kuman

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