Following Prime Minister Marape’s declaration of the SOE throughout the country, 540 school children attending Bieng Catholic Primary School on Manam Island in Madang’s Bogia District were sent home.
The entire teaching staff took it upon themselves to commence COVID-19 Awareness throughout the volcanic island, kick-starting the community awareness in Baliu Village, the largest of the 12 villages located around the island.
More than 500 men and women attended, according to senior teacher Ms Belinda Sila. Ms Sila said “as key stakeholders we have to tell the remote island people about the corona virus, otherwise we are not doing our part as public servants and concerned community leaders.” Ms Sila further explained that their strategy is to cover the area as quickly as possible, covering most of the islands including villages of Zogari, Yassa, Waia and Madauri.
A local community leader explained that as a result of the government’s lack of sustainable intervention the Manam people have been left to fend for themselves, often getting into fatal clashes with host communities on the mainland. This has forced many people to return the Island which continues to erupt on a regular basis. The island is 83 square kilometres, it is estimated that over 4000 people have returned to the island since the eruption in 2004.
Like most rural communities, the Primary and Elementary teachers continue to stand tall when it comes to representing and carrying out government directives, the true un-sung heroes of nation building.
Feature Pic: Senior Teacher of Bieng Catholic Primary School Ms. Belinda Sila carrying out COVID-19 awareness with the community