I was born on the 27th of May 1983. I am of mixed Madang and Simbu parentage, a proud mother of two beautiful children and I am currently employed as a Records Officer with Nasfund Savings & Loans Society under their Legal Division.
Nothing is out of the ordinary in my life; except for one slight peculiarity: I run a school under my house. The idea for a school that would cater for illiterate and marginalized children living in and around Port Moresby came to me in 2017.
I had been unemployed for nearly two years and witnessing the tragic sight of children roaming around aimlessly made me ask the hard question: What would happen to them in the future? What would those children’s lives look like ten to fifteen years down the line? An illiterate child wondering around with no guidance is a lethal combination and so I decided to intervene the only way I could.
On the first of April, 2017, without skills of a degree of any sort, I registered New Beginning Literacy College with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA); a school that would serve the purpose of teaching underprivileged children and starting them on the path of education. The formal announcement of the school took place on April 28th with invited guests attending the event. May 1st, 2017, was the first day of enrolling children living in and around 9 mile area and I hold this day to be a memorable one because it signified a change for every unfortunate child’s future. The school’s motto is: Develop your character and you change our world, and to ME, young children enrolling to attend New Beginning Literacy College marked a massive change in my small corner of the world because finally, children unfortunate enough to consider education an improbable occurrence were now given the opportunity to learn.
Up until 27th of June 2019, due to the increase in the number of children enrolling, the school changed its name to New Literacy College; a name that indicates a growing range. New Literacy College is currently under my house, located at my residential home in 9 mile Port Moresby, opposite Agro Farm, Mango main street, Section 1155. Grades range from prep – grade 1 and 25-35 children in all are attending New Literacy College.
The children pay a registration fee of K50 to enable them to attend classes, however not many pay as the idea and drive is to ensure that none of them are left out. New Literacy College has library books supplied by the Education Department and have also bought their own materials from other outlets.
There are three dedicated teachers that teach the children, they are paid or assisted by my former Trainer Consortium of Leadership Excellence (COLE) Group of Companies. Mr Shivalinga Prasad during my first approach in 2018 when I mentioned to him about my passion and vision towards this marginalized children – an individual I compliment as being an angel in human form, and who has earns an honorable mention for playing and continuing to play a supportive role in the resilient existence of New Literacy College since 2019 June.
However, we still lack many things at present, one being the need for a proper classroom but they continue to do what we can until the long term plan of improving and expanding New Literacy College is realized. Of the many goals I aim to accomplish, two include: ensuring elevations in grade levels and securing lands to build and expand the school to better accommodate and educate the children. The fact however remains that without the support of the government, other donor agencies and charity organizations none of these goals will be realized. Even so, my teachers and I continue to make use of what we have at present in order for the children to remain intact in a formal education setting.
My personal story is one of persistence and struggle to achieve my dreams. I completed year 10 at Gerehu High School but forfeited my scholarship due to pregnancy. Nevertheless this did not hold me back; I began working in shops as a shop assistant. In November of 2007 I was offered a job with Bank South Pacific (BSP) as security personnel. While working day shifts, I took night classes at the International Training Institute and earned a certificate in Computing. By June of 2009, I was elevated to work as a switch board operator inside the BSP Head Office. Later on BSP paid for my diploma which I undertook and graduated in 2010, I notes this to be a turning point in my career. I then left BSP after being their employee for almost eight years and joined the People’s Micro Bank, where I worked for seven months before leaving to start my own school – New Beginning Literacy College.
At present, I am working as a Records Officer with Nasfund Savings & Loans Society whilst overseeing the running of the school; this is mainly because of the need to support the school through an avenue of formal employment since New Literacy College main objective is to serve marginalized kids, many of whom are not able to afford good education.
*Natalie Tom works as a Records Officer with Nasfund Savings & Loans Society. You can follow the New Beginning Literacy College on Facebook here.