Lopoki Inc. training receives essential coverage on national television

Lopoki Inc. recently completed the Basic Housekeeping training a Nyapio Island in Manus Province so we were pleased to see that the mass media give us some coverage.

Although the television coverage was less than four minutes, we take courage in the fact that the training on Nyapio was put on national TV. This, itself, provided us the footprint to follow in future dealings with the media and improve our messaging as well. Our news on the training appeared on two national TV stations at their respective nightly news bulletin.

The first one was on EMTV News on the 28th November, 2021 while the second time for the same story appeared was on the NBC News on 7th December, 2021. Here are the respective news stories:

We’d like to thank Mr. Bradley Valenaki of EMTV and Ms. Sinivar Kasimani and Mr. Cashmir Waken of NBC for taking their time to put the story together and air it on their respective television stations.

It is the very first television news for Lopoki Inc. and its a small step for us as we begin to initiate and create contacts in the media industry here in Papua New Guinea. We hope to work with the mass media more to promote the work of Lopoki Inc. and eventually reach those who are willing to support our work across local communities.

Whuroh!!

Lopoki Inc. conducts a basic ‘housekeeping’ training on Nyapio Island in Manus Province

A rural and remote community in Manus province has just completed a three-day training on Basic Housekeeping.
Nyapio island, widely known as Johnson island, on the south coast of Manus, Ward 6 of the POBUMA local level government area had ten (10) of its locals trained in three main areas of housekeeping – Storeroom and stock control; Accommodation and guest laundry; and Room Servicing. The rural and remote island of Nyapio has a community guest house called the Nyapio Island Getaway Resort that will get its first guests in December. The Resort reached out to Lopoki Inc., a not-for-profit non-government organization who then organized the training.

Trainer Mr. Albert Pih goes through with the participants the process of bed making in one of the rooms of the guest accommodation at Nyapio Island Getaway Resort.

Founder of Lopoki Inc. Mr. Kingston Namun said that the three day training was to empower the locals on the island to effectively take care of tourists and visitors when they arrived on their island and experience the tour packages they have on offer in December, 2021.
He said: “The community has already taken the initiative to build two semi-permanent buildings housing four rooms for around eight (8) guests when they visit the community based resort. The Nyapio islanders have proven that they want to bring change to their community and so they worked with Lopoki Inc. to ensure this training occurred.”
“This training provides basic housekeeping skills to the participants and increases their knowledge and capacity to manage guests who will travel by boat to the island. Lopoki Inc.’s focus is helping empower local communities in Manus who are willing to help themselves,” said Mr. Namun.

The ten (10) participants and their trainer Mr. Albert Pih (far right) and Mr. Pius Kuweh (left) and Mr. Kingston Namun (far left) after receiving their laminated certificates

Lopoki Inc. worked in partnership with the Manus Provincial Government’s Commerce Division and the Manus Training Centre to carry out the training. The Division of Commerce through their Business Development Officer Mr. Pius Kuweh and Manus Training Centre’s Tourism and Hospitality Instructor Mr. Albert Pih were both at the island to conduct the sessions.
The Nyapio Island Getaway Resort funded the three-day training and ten participants (9 females and 1 male) received certificates of participation.
Mr. Namun thanked the Nyapio island community for their hospitality and hoped to collaborate with local partners in province to deliver similar trainings to Manus communities who needed such trainings.

Need to reduce work related stress? An unforgettable two days on Nyapio island can do the trick

Suppose you have been working for a number of years and your now routine life activities are beginning to eat at your happiness. Or maybe you just want a little bit of adventure or even something different for a few days. Do you feel you should take a few days off your normal routine and repeated activities? Then Nyapio Island Getaway Resort is surely the best therapy for you. Just a few days on this island oasis would have you feeling good all over. Since I regularly write about community initiatives in Manus for my blog lopoki.com, the Nyapio community invited me to visit their new village style Resort initative and, along with their guests, experience what the Resort had to offer. So on 16th September, I made the trip from Lorengau to their island. All I can say is that it is truly one of the best places you will ever set foot on in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea.

Nyapio Island Getaway Resort is located on the south coast of Manus Province. Nyapio and other surrounding smaller islands are most widely known as the Johnston islands and are a rural and remote group of islands in the Pobuma Local Level Government (LLG) area. It is roughly two hours by outboard motor from the provincial capital, Lorengau. You have to travel north over the sea from Lorengau town, go through the Loniu waterway passage, then under the famous Loniu bridge, hit the open seas past Lawes village and then set the course straight past N’dropwa island and after a few minutes further south, Nyapio island emerges from the edge of the sea. We took this route on the 16th of September from Lorengau around 4.30pm and arrived in the afternoon at roughly around 6pm.

Passing through the Loniu passage onto the south coast of Manus
Arriving at Nyapio after the two hour boat ride from Lorengau town
First time ever to touch down on Nyapio island aka Johnston Island.

We were welcomed by the sound of a lone wooden garamut as we neared the shoreline. When we landed, the community came to welcome us. We quickly sorted our baggage and moved them to the bungalow accommodation just a few meters from the seashore. We then took a bath with fresh water to rinse sea salt from our body and clothes. Then dinner came in hot and hearty. There were multiple varieties of fish, mashed cassava, sago infused with sea shell meat, greens, bananas and sweet potatoes. We topped it off with tea while the local clan leaders spoke and welcomed us as guests to the Resort.

Dinner is served!
Some of the yummy island delicacies! The sliver tray in front is sago immersed with meat from seashells! Just too good!

We then moved to the bungalow, sorted our clothes and things. There are two bungalows with one fully complete. The next one was under construction and had iron roofing. The completed bungalow is made from traditional house materials of wood, sago leaves and cane thatched blinds. The flooring has a mat and the windows have flywire screens. It is spacious around 3 meters by 3 meters and the interior roofing is high forming an apex in the middle of the house. One bungalow has two rooms and each room had two single beds, each with comfortable mattresses, clean sheets and pillows. The cool evening breeze lulled us into submission and by 9pm or 10pm we were already sound asleep.

Our bungalows. This bungalow has two rooms and each room as two beds.

 In the morning, we had breakfast, similar to what we had the night before, but this time we had baked buns, fried bananas and pawpaw slices too. The plan was that we would go fishing and then visit one of the islands nearby. With a boat skipper, two crew and us, the guests, we set off onto the open sea on a 40 horse powered engine. Since I lived in the hinterlands of Manus, this was an opportunity for me to fish. Alas, my inexperienced hands only landed one small fish but I was too proud nonetheless.

Richard with his catch!
Its a tiny fish but I’m over the moon!
Island hopping after the trawling session. This is Kalopa island
Majestic views from the top! Standing on the hill of Kalopa island and looking west back to Nyapio island. M’buke island is further back of Nyapio
Standing at the top of Kalopa and looking towards the east where Lou island stands proud in the distance.
The waters surrounding Kalopa are just amazing!
Skillful Master: As we near Nyapio, one of the islanders is fishing in the deep sea, straddling his legs aside the canoe to balance himself while pulling in the fish.

We then circled back and approached one of the island just next to Nyapio – Kalopa. The waters leading towards the island are just as clean as a whistle in the rays of the midday sunlight. We landed at the beach and then decided to climb the hard rocks to reach the summit roughly 20 meters above sea level. We sat down for a few minutes and looked back to the main island Nyapio. M’buke island was further to the west while at our back, in the distant sea, were the islands of Baluan and Lou. Many of the islands on the south coast of Manus are very far from mainland Manus in comparison to the islands on the north coast of Manus which are very close to the mainland Manus. So for the Johnston islanders, travelling to the mainland of Manus is too far so their main trading partners are the two islands on the east. When in need, they usually catch a bountiful of fish and exchange these for baskets of fruits and vegetables from the Lou and Baluan islanders. It must be also noted that Nypio island is one of the last islands of Manus where human population reside before you travel across provincial maritime borders on the high open seas to Madang or Wewak, if you happen to make that trip. After our climb, we came back down, washed in the cool waters of Kalopa, had lunch on the beach and took photos. We then went on the boat to the next island Keyoni where we picked up some ‘aleleu’ fresh off the tree. The ‘aleleu’, as a typical greens would be used together with our village raised chicken in our afternoon meal. We then left Keyoni, went past the back of Nyopio and arrived back to the front of the island where our accommodation was.  

A lovely parrot rests on my head
Two of the guests Mr. Richard Mark from Abus na Kumu and Mr. Richard Dellman from Advantage (PNG) share tips on the use of automatic SRL cameras

In the afternoon, one of the other guests Mr. Richard Mark, who is the founder of the business called Abus na Kumu, decided to run a practical workshop for the women involved in the Resort on how to prepare and cook the famous East New Britain province delicacy – the Aigir. He used local chickens and fish including vegetables and showed them every step of the process. It was the first time anyone had cooked Aigir on the small island and so the women were eager participants. He also prepared the two small fish we had caught using his signature sauce and lemon fish tray. The aroma of great food filled the kitchen area. In the evening, it was a really good meal! I practically swallowed the lemon slices together with the fish! After the day long adventure, we were so tried that we hit the sack early.

Richard prepares to heat the stones for the Aigir
The women of Nyapio chip in with the work
The team from Abus na Kumu show the finer points of preparing the Aigir while the women of Nyapio look on.
Putting all the ingredients, sweet potato, bananas, greens and chicken into the pot and putting the coconut milk in as well before covering it up.
Along with the Aigir dishes, Abus na Kumu also prepared a delicious fish receipe
A short video about what Abus na Kumu did on the island.

The next day after breakfast, we loaded up three outboard boats and headed to Al island, around 15 minutes from the main island. This time, many of the children of Nyapio came with us to go to Al island. Al island is truly a magnificent island. It is just a meter or so above the sea level and has the finest sand and clear crystal waters. The white soft sand cuts across the sea creating a sand bank that stretches almost a kilometer. It is just hard to describe its beauty and the natural calmness of this tiny strip of an island. One should visit it to understand its tranquility and majestic natural environment. There are no large trees and it seems to be in the middle of nowhere! While the others headed to see the other interesting spots on the trip such as the sea bubbles and dolphins further out to the sea, I stayed on the island to take it all in.

Absolutely beautiful sand and sea on Al
Too perfect!
The children of Nyapio place the PNG flag on the sand as we all take in the natural beauty of the island.
One could walk along the sand and be just lost in the moment!

We all arrived back at Nyapio in the afternoon and Richard Mark went to prepare roast pork for dinner. The Resort also had some of its members go diving so we would have some reef fish to eat in the evening dinner. The dinner also marked our last night on the island as we would be departing the next day. The local community was invited to share a meal with the guests. There was lots of food and during dinner, each of the guests were given an opportunity to address the men, women and children at the Resort dining area. We all talked about the wonderful place the Resort was and urged the community to support and grow the Resort into something that would assist them in the long run.

Richard Mark of Abus na Kumu preparing the pork for our last meal.
The women of Nyapio take stock of the pork and are shown how to marinate the meat
Some of the Nyapio men have gone fishing and have brought back fish to be prepared for our last meal.
My plate is just awesome! Roast pork, mashed cassava, cream rich boiled rice in coconut leaves and sago immersed with meat from sea shells.
The leaders of the community, men, women and children all gather to say ‘word of thanks’ and we respond then we all have our last meal together.
The villagers present Manus baskets to us.

After dinner, we all marched 10 minutes westwards to the edge of the Resort where there was sandbank. There, the Resort had set up and built a bonfire using logs collected on the sandbank plus coconut leaves, dried bamboo and small sticks. It was already past 7pm and we took out candy and soft drinks for the children. Then the community set the stack of wood and debris alight. Oh what a sight it was!!! The orange flames lit up the night sky and the crackling sound of dry bamboos popping filled the warm night. We all sat around the warmth of the fire and told stories with the locals until 10pm before we retired back to our rooms.

The Bonfire! Young kids all around as we all sat around the magnificent fire to tell stories late into the night.

The next morning, we took the two hour ride back to town along the route closer to the mainland of south coast Manus past Pere and M’bunai to Pamachau, Waratalai and Lawes before hitting the Loniu passage into Lorengau town where we ended our two-day trip to the newest community resort in Manus. I came here curious, with an open mind as a Manusian myself but was totally blown away about how the people of Nyapio have began this community resort project to build on their reputation as a resilient people. My next post will be about explaining the background of the Resort and what it stands to accomplish for the people of that island.

One thing to take away from this trip? One thing I believe that will make your trip more interesting would be for you, the guest, to think about something you would like to give back to the locals in terms of your passion, career or education. You can do an hour or 30-minute program or session to the local islanders in the afternoons or evenings. Abus na Kumu showed the way though its cooking sessions. You can do the same too. This is because it is a community based Resort so feel free to give back as much as you get from the experience from the island. It is a win-win situation and a greater cultural learning takes place between you and the locals of Nyapio.  

If you want to visit Nyapio and see its natural wonder, the friendly locals and experience the Mwanus way, see the website for the resort at https://nyapioislandgetawayresort.com/ and book your trip today!

M’buke village sets up an amazing community Wi-Fi and internet connectivity

Manus, being mostly a maritime province with its vast open seas, its unofficial 100,000 population scattered in small communities across its islands, coastlines and rugged hinterlands faces development challenges from a lack of reliable, affordable transportation, energy and communication infrastructure.  Communication solutions, let alone a robust and affordable internet-based system is still only a dream for many of the communities. Communication services in most parts of Manus is still provided by Digicel towers placed in some areas around the island province. But even still, many remote villages are not able to connect to the internet or have reliable phone services to communicate with the outside world.  

One such rural and remote village on the south coast of Manus Province has been out of phone network coverage for a long time. M’buke, pronounced as ‘Bu-ke’ with a silent ‘M’, are a group of islands who are a part of one of Manus’s major language groups – Titan language and are renown for building large outrigger canoes and are skillful sailors. With a relatively small population numbering close to 1,000, the people are outgoing, community oriented and practice communal decision making and have developed shared systems to tackle transport and energy challenges. However, the lack of reliable and affordable communication services has been an on ongoing challenge for a long time.  

The lovely M’buke island. Pic by Peter Popu Molean
The M’buke community.

Peter Popu Molean, an architect by profession and project manager by qualification and training, is a M’buke local who has invested more than a decade into investigating and support the delivery of development projects and innovative solutions for his island home. A robust and affordable communication has always been on the list of priorities. In 2020, his hunt for an affordable internet solution landed him at Kacific Broadband Satellite Ltd, a relatively new entrant into Papua New Guinea (operating mostly in south east Asia and the south western Pacific) committed to providing universal, fast, high-quality broadband access at an affordable cost using robust technologies and an agile business model. Immediately recognizing the capabilities of the solution on offer by Kacific, he developed and submitted a proposal with the blessing of the traditional leadership of M’buke, the Ward development community and the Board of management of the M’buke Primary School and the M’buke Community for a Satellite broadband Internet Kit under Kacific’ s Community Wifi Program. M’buke’s application was one the first to be approved. Under the conditions for this program, the Satellite kit would be heavily discounted and linked up with Kinect, a Port Moresby Based Internet Service Provider (ISP) and Kacific authorized dealer and installer. The recipient community takes up costs for equipment freight and logistics as well as installation service fees. The Community would also need to procure and install a solar power kit capable for running the system.

In early 2021, Molean proposed the project to 12 young likeminded M’buke Islanders based in Port Moresby together hatched a plan to pull this project off starting with a personal cash commitment to raise the cost component and take charge of ensuring the Project got delivered.   Armed with a simple but effective project delivery strategy, the team was able to garner the support from various individuals and groups from other centers around the country, in Lorengau and especially on the island who chipped in cash and kind. These included Air Niugini, NCD Governor Hon. Powes Parkop, Sherpard Guest House, Bismarck Fuel, Kinect and the M’buke Islands People’s Association (MIPA). For example, Air Niugini’s Commercial team, made it possible to uplift all the equipment from Port Moresby to Manus free of excess charges, provided heavily discounted tickets for the technical team to travel not only once but twice to M’buke Island from Port Moresby to inspect, install and commission the Satellite Broadband Internet and Wifi System.

The team departs Port Moresby to Manus. From left to right is Anton Poliap, Milton Kisapai, Peter Popu Molean, Alex Roalokona and Joshua Salawia

Last week, months of planning and execution, many acts of goodwill, generous hearts and contributions, all the hard work paid off when M’buke Island was connected to the world wide web via high speed broad band internet service.

The Kinect team starts working as soon as they arrive on the island in the evening. Pictured here is Joshua Salawia, Alex Roalokona and local islander Pomulut Popau.
The Kinect technician Alex Roalokona calibrates the dish to the satellite the following day
The wireless technology mounted on the rooftop to transmit the wireless signal to the community

The team leader Mr. Peter Popu Molean said in practical terms, the pace of socio-economic development has been hindered for so many years with very poor unreliable service from existing service providers.  M’buke is a 3-hour or K500 boat trip to Lorengau town to make that vital phone call or send a critical email or access online services. A contributing factor to the high cost of service delivery is the lack of access to a robust system that can support dissemination of data and information in a timely and accurate manner.

In the mid-term, he said: “The Internet Service will boost teaching and learning capacities, at the elementary and primary school levels, where programs are already being set in place to maximize the benefits of resources and capabilities availed via the internet

“The future of the M’buke people as society is and will always be best guaranteed with a well-educated population. Enabling access to education resources online at the basic community level is a natural step in building community resilience by enabling our people to develop home grown solutions to meet ever shifting development challenges,” he added. 

Peter Popu Molean explains to the M’buke primary school students and teachers about the role of the Wi-Fi program and how it will benefit the school
Anton Poliap points out the role of students having aspirations and dreams to be better versions of themselves and how the community Wifi program can help them learn well
We pose with the M’buke Primary School students after the awareness session.

He pointed out: “We will launch the Internet and telecommunications service on 16th September to coincide with our local independence celebrations. The installation and commissioning of the Internet Service on the island is not end of the Project, rather it is only the beginning. As with change and development progress, there will be negative aspects that will be need attention and mitigation strategies put in place and with power vested with the appropriate stakeholders. However, on the overall, positive benefits should outweigh the negatives.”

There are already plans underway by the MIPA to conduct more community consultations and training to members of the community on basic internet use on smart phones, online safety and online literacy. The MIPA executives are already planning a rapid evaluation in December on the island to assess the impact and outcome of the telecommunication service.

The team leaves M’buke village back to Lorengau