Twenty-two years ago, her life came to a standstill when her father, the only person she believed could help with her future, left his job and could no longer support her with school fees. She was devastated. The scholarship she had received after completing grade 10 at Gerehu Provincial High in year 2000 to travel overseas and attend one of New Zealand’s iconic girls’ colleges was consequently forfeited.
It was from this point that life became much harder, with no qualifications for employment, and soon expecting her first child. Despite these challenges this young mother couldn’t see any other way than to dig deep and to keep moving forward one day at a time.
Thankfully she found a job as a shop assistant that was able to help ease her burdens and provide the much-needed financial support she had been praying for. Over the years with a lot of persistence and determination she progressed into the finance and banking industry where she spent over a decade journeying through the Bank of South Pacific and the People’s Micro Bank to where she is today, working with Papua New Guinea’s NASFUND Contributors Savings & Loans Society (NCSL).
This resilient mother of two, who grew up in one of Port Moresby’s notorious suburbs of 5-mile Hilltop is now impacting lives and doing extraordinary work in her local community of 9-mile settlement just outside Port Moresby in the nation’s Capital.
Despite the daily struggles of living in a settlement, she still finds it within her to wake up every morning and give back to her community.
Nana Natalie Tom is her name. She comes from a mixed parentage of Simbu and Madang. Back in May of 2017, she established the New Literacy College where she now operates from under her house at 9-mile. Nana manages to run this inspiring college whilst balancing her NSCL role – an arrangement which has the blessing of her employer.
New Literacy College is a first-of-its-kind community-based education initiative aimed at serving the underprivileged children in the community. The college sits within the framework of Prep to Elementary 2 in our education system, catering for children in the nearby settlement areas who don’t have access to basics needs like clean water, healthy food, and good care.
New Literacy College is more than just a school. It is a haven for these little children who are not able to access services provided by the government. Through this school, Nana not only hopes to provide them with basic needs but also give them this highly important part of their life, early childhood development and education, right to their doorsteps.
Aligned with her vision to grow New Literacy College, Nana has plans for her own personal growth and development. Earlier this year, she enrolled at the University of Papua New Guinea to do a bachelor’s in business management and public policy professional studies, simultaneously at Divine Word University in a diploma in management studies.
Nana is driven by her passion to help these young lives who are living in the settlement areas right now. Through her own personal experience of growing up in a settlement, she knows and understands the struggles and stigma they are faced with on a day-to- day basis. Her hope is not only to see the children graduate from New Literacy College into primary schools and succeed academically, beyond this she’d love to see an overall positive change in their behaviours to become good law-abiding citizens of this country Papua New Guinea.