Despite having no formal qualifications, the Pondos were inspired to become teachers to educate and change the lives of children in their village, which is about an hour from Kokoda Station in the Sohe District of Northern Province.
When an opportunity arose in 2012 to attend a teaching course at Mamba, run by the Kokoda Track Foundation, they both jumped at the chance and applied. After graduating, the couple returned to Gorari and established a classroom made of bush materials to teach elementary school children aged five to eight years old.
Attendance in the bush classrooms has grown substantially over the years, and now the school has over 150 elementary students.
To provide a more comfortable learning environment, the Kokoda Initiative (KI) recently constructed a new double classroom for Gorari Elementary School. The KI is a long-standing partnership between Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Mrs Pondo said both classrooms were being used for elementary grades at the school. One room is used for her Prep and Grade 1 classes, while the other is used by the Grade 2 class taught by her husband.
“When the classroom was built for our elementary grades, it really assisted us because previously our students were sitting on bare earth,” said Mrs Pondo.
“With the new classroom, I am able to teach students from morning until afternoon, even when it is raining, and students also have proper desks and chairs.
“Thank you to the Australian government for these new classrooms, as they are having a great impact on the lives of these students, and will help them to have a brighter future.”
(Cornelius and Wari Pondo)