Lopoki Inc. visits amazing ECOM Secondary to promote DWU undergraduate courses to grade 12s.

Today was a truly rewarding experience for Lopoki Inc. to give back to my old high school, now known as ECOM Secondary School.

ECOM, for those who don’t know, stands for Evangelical Church of Manus. ECOM’s headquarters is located at Lugos station just 20 minutes ride outside of the Lorengau township. Early evangelical Liebenzelle missionaries of Germany set up here on Lugos station many years ago (around 1914) and since then the church has grown from Lugos to many parts of Manus. The high school was established on 4th February 1991 and after many years become a secondary school. I completed my grade 10 in 1996 at ECOM High.

Now after many years, I decided to come back and give back to my old high school. As a Divine Word University Alumni and with the guidance of the DWU Registrars office in Madang, I gave a presentation to three grade 12 classes about DWU life, courses and entry requirements. My idea was that my sessions would at least give the students an idea about DWU courses before they fill in their school leaver forms in a few weeks’ time, as most of you know, is now done online.  

The grade 12 students listening intently. Pic by Mr. Koeu
The grade 12 students listen as I talk
Myself talking about the different faculties at DWU, courses and entry requirements. Pic by Mr. Koeu

In these students, I saw myself from all those years ago so I was a bit emotional to see the place that gave me so much more than classroom education but life education as well. I had joined this school while we were at the old site at Lugos station. Our classrooms where sago thatched and when it rained we would move our desks to avoid rainwater falling on us. Coconuts, fruits trees like laulaus, five corner, sausap (I don’t know the English names of these fruit trees….lol) were in abundance and I used to climb all of them. We would wash in the creeks, road culverts and beaches surrounding the station. I met some beautiful souls at this school and really laughed a lot. I remember so well that myself and 9 other boys were appointed to look after broiler chickens at the chicken farm. When we went for Youth Ministry in town on Friday afternoons and came back in the night, the mess service would leave us food. We went on student led trips outreach and even went far as Lundret village up the Manus highway for boys retreat. We had nightly devotions led by students and even our favorite school chaplain, Mr. James Jonah gave us thought provoking sermons each weeknight.

The Administration building
When we moved from the old site to the new site , this was my first classroom at grade 10.

Academically, I grew in confidence at this school. I now look back and say that we had some of the best and committed teachers given the state of the school as it was just beginning. Mr. Saramasi, Mr. Apo, Mr. Pere, Mrs. Lulu, Mr. Berger, Mrs Usu, Mr. Kwalo, Mrs Pokawin, Mr. Schuit and many others were our brilliant teachers. It was also a time when the school environment taught me how to study. All through my primary school and early high school, I didn’t know how to study to score good marks but when I came to ECOM, that changed. I saw how students would write notes and reflect on them at night. Many others slept early and woke up in the middle of the night to study their notes too. I began to enjoy science and maths though as the teachers were great. We had both male and female students take Home Economics and Practical skills, which, many of the things I learnt in those two subjects, I still keep in my life.

But all that was in the mid 1990s. The school these days has become a secondary school and a major trainer and educator of students from all over the province. It has grown immensely through great leadership and hard working staff, students and the local Dungoumasih community. It has moved to the new site which is where it is now situated and its buildings are permanent and can hold larger number of students. There are more teachers houses and the student intakes are much higher. I know talking to students is my small way of giving back to the school that gave me so much. I hope I can continue to give back more in the coming years.

I would like to firstly thank the Principal Mr. Ponowan for allowing me to come back to the school to share to the students. I would also like to give a big word of thanks to the Deputy Principal Administration, Mr. Koeu for slotting me into the relevant school timetable and also to his family for accommodating me during the two days I stayed at the school.

A brief chat with a great leader of the school, the Principal, Mr. Ponowan, at his office.
The hard working and committed Mr. Koeu accommodated me and assisted me all throughout my stay.

I hope Lopoki Inc. is given the opportunity to do the sessions again next year and maybe do the same to the other secondary schools in Manus as well. I still want to go to Papitalai Secondary and maybe Manus Secondary too.

A final snap before I take off back to Lorengau. This monument is a granite block erected during the time of the first three generations during the mid 1990s

OPP may prove to be a basic yet reliable starting point for strategic planning

OPP, short for Objective Oriented Planning can be a useful tool for strategic planning especially for small NGOs like Lopoki Inc.

The last couple of days have been about strategic planning…in and around the kitchen area of course..lol. The sago thatched kitchen house, with the earthen floor, provides just enough space and light to place the blackboard.

Basically I’m trying to develop a three year strategic plan for Lopoki Inc. using Objective Oriented Planning (OPP) which basically means that success comes from achieving set objectives. Developing a periodic strategic plan enables you to implement a stable Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system thus you can measure your progress and successes.

Now the way to develop objectives using OPP is to do it through a Logical Framework Approach (LFA).

So one of the key steps is to first do Problem Analysis. This is because the LFA makes the assumption that the set objectives will come from the problems identified therefore, if you identify the problem correctly, you will develop accurate and sensible objectives.

So setting up the blackboard in front of the kitchen seems to be the right place to do a rough draft of the problem tree. Identifying the root causes is the key outcome of Problem Analysis

Now using a problem tree, I have identified a focal problem and broken down its’ causes and its’ effects. Hopefully, the root causes are identified and this, in turn, becomes the objectives.

There are a couple more steps to undertake before the strategic plan is complete. I’m hoping that once the strategic plan document is complete, it will run from maybe Sept 2021 to Sept 2024.

It is still a one-man effort but you got to start somewhere, right?

A jackfruit or a breadfruit? Do you know its name?

For the life of me, I don’t know what the English name for this fruit is. Its’ shape and feel is similar to the Breadfruit and even maybe a Jackfruit. Someone out there can confirm its name with me.

No too many people talk about this fruit or even take photographs of it. Maybe because not too many people come across it or the those who do, don’t think too highly of it. I first heard of the fruit in high school but then over the years I have heard it in stories from people who lived or walked in the mountains and bushes especially those who lived in the Kurti area. So a few days ago, my mum brought one home. She found it by the bush track she was walking in. The fruit grows from a tree 10-15 meters up and can be found in the bushes rather than in clear spaces in the community.

So the name in the local Kurti language is call ‘Pakan’ (prounced as Pah-kan). It very much looks like a breadfruit but even though it is round, the skin is very hard. This means that when it falls from the tree it grows on and lands on the ground, its’ insides dont smash or become squashy. People often locate the fallen pakan on the ground underneath the tree. If one doesn’t see it immediately, the smell gives it away. It smells sweet like freshly cooked breadfruit over an open fire.  When you break it open with a knife, the flesh dry and stable has seeds imbedded in it like small pebbles. The taste is a cross between a baked kaukau (sweet potato) and a pineapple. Its easy on the mouth and goes down well because the smell is pleasant.   

You should try one when you visit Manus!