Inuma Village in Brief
In the deep south of the Magi Highway, away from the city of Port Moresby, you will find Inuma village, a tiny remote village located beside the highway is a place where time is seen differently from the western way of life. This village is located in central province in Papua New Guinea and about two to three hours drive out of Port Moresby. Untouched by mass development, this village is a place where you can still see and feel the real remote village lifestyle. Inuma village landscape is a diverse mixture of earthy agriculture, wide open spaces with untouched and minimal farming activities and some of the most beautiful natural forest with amazing scenery you have ever laid eyes on.
A small village with a population of approximately 100 people living permanently in the village makes it one of the most friendliest and hospitable village you ever come across in this part of the world. Most of the people who are employed live in the nation’s capital, Port Moresby make their occasional trips back to the village during special occasions or holidays.
In 2013, I returned to the village where I grew up as a child to visit families but it was a life-changing trip for me. Whilst I was there, I turned my attention to village school to find out more about schools in remote areas in the region, especially, the elementary school in Inuma village. The elementary school in remote communities was introduced by the Papua New Guinea government for number of years. This system of education was to provide opportunities for communities living in remote areas to have access to the importance of education. I wanted to observe how this system had progressed in this tiny village school – Inuma. Despite having traveled quite a bit, there was something truly magical and mind-blowing about remote schools. I had never visited anything quite like it before. The people in remote areas live in wide open space with abundance of food surrounded by tropical flora and fauna but there is a lack of infrastructure in schools. Seeing these happy faces truly touched my soul.
My journey began with a two to three hour drive south of the city of Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. The road leading out of the city, the Magi Highway wasn’t smooth as expected. Most of the road is bitumen but is rough and deeply pot-holed. This rough and pot-holed roads are visible and commonly recognisable both in urban and rural areas throughout the country. As we drove along the highway, we went through many beautiful remote villages one after the another. Throughout the country, where many of its people live in remote villages have little or no access to education. About 90% of people living in remote villages don’t know how to read and write. For those who are privileged, many times, we have taken education for granted.
Visiting the Inuma elementary school was one of my best experiences I ever had. The school is located in the heart of the village next to the village church building. The church building architecturally designed is built with modern building materials is visibly noticeable from the distance. The school classroom built with simple structure has corrugated iron roof supported by eight wooden poles with no built-in walls and no concrete floors. The school desks are made from local timbers, laid out sequently on earth-floor for students to use.
The schools in remote areas throughout the country are under-resourced with very little or hardly any facilities compared to any typical urban schools in the city. However, one of the highlights of my visit which amazes as I took time to process and digest these cancerous corruption with the education system was the power of the children that I had come in contact with. For children who live and attend schools in remote areas like the Inuma village, the teaching standards and learning facilities are very poor. Sadly, all schools have similar experiences throughout the remotes areas of the country. Teaching in remote schools is a commitment and it is not for everyone. The conditions can be very challenging. However, it is a unique experience and can be immensely rewarding, offering a lifestyle you may never get to experience working in cities.
It was no surprise to me that many of the children come from under-privileged family backgrounds with either parents having no formal education nor employed. Many based themselves in the village to be subsistence farmers. Many of them come to the city to sell their surplus of goods or on the side of the road to pay for their children’s education and buy other items that they need.
This is the lifestyle that I found myself in a very familiar situation which I am no stranger to it. This is where I began my childhood journey and is still very green in my mind. Taking time to visit school like this in remote areas, is no stranger to me compared to what I have seen in some of the schools in most poorest countries in the world. Many of the schools in remote areas have dilapidated ammenities, crowded schools and uneven ratio of students per teacher. Though they lack many of the vital facilities, the children are happy and their cancerous smiles are priceless.
These challenges children face in remote areas at home are varied. With parents lack of formal education creates a big gap for a child to further their knowledge and help at home. Most of the remote villages have no electricity, nor running taps. It is a common problem felt across developing countries and the strain in remote areas is acute. The schools in rural areas often operate out of single classroom or in unsafe buildings and the teachers are under-paid and trained.
From what I have seen and observed, the children are happy and always eager to learn. They have the luxury of freedom and the breath of fresh air goes a long way. They may struggle but their way of life, surrounded with rich natural environment creates an atmosphere where everything is worthless. It is definitely a place for adventure travellers paradise.
Spending time with these children was the best part of my experience. All of these children belong to my immediate and extended families, This is what I have come to see and learn. Sadly, what I have seen with children’s standard of learning with limited resources created an environment that is depression but everyone seems to be so happy and free. It is a place where the children and community see it as a norm – A lifestyle they become accustom to from their worldview.