Helen Thomas says that she wanted to be a teacher so that she could educate the children in her society to become agents of change in the country. For her, teaching is like a parental role. “It is all about nurturing children, both physically and spiritually.”

As a Christian, Helen not only teaches students about the core subjects, but also imparts good values to them.

Originating from the Yakamun Tribe of Enga Province, Helen strove to earn a Diploma in Primary Teaching through an Australia Awards PNG Scholarship. She graduated from the Sacred Heart Teacher’s College in 2020.

“I want to say thank you to Australia Awards PNG Scholarship. It supported me with school fees, allowance and other expenses, and I value it so much. It is a good scholarship program,” she says.

In the first year of her teaching career, Helen confronted challenges teaching at Yalis Primary School, in the remote Wapenamanda district of Enga Province.

“When I went there, no accommodation was provided, so I slept with another teacher,” she says. She was not paid, and the students did not have learning resources, which made the situation very complicated for her.  She says that the bad road conditions are the leading cause of challenges faced by teachers there.

Despite the obstacles, Helen is passionate about achieving her goal as a teacher. She says, “What keeps me strong is that I am teaching the future leaders of my province, so it is worth sacrificing for them. I did that for the entire last year.”

Helen says sometimes she helps her students with their basic needs such as stationery and lunch because she understands that some students come from rich families while others come from poor families. When she has done this, Helen saw that she earned much respect from the students. “The students treated me as their own father and mother, while I see my students as my own children. I want them to be good men and women, therefore I give them priority,” she says.

Now, teaching grade four at Wapenamanda Primary School, Helen is grateful for her profession and says that teaching helps her to discover and learn new things each day.

Helen encourages those who wish to pursue a career in teaching to consider applying for an Australia Awards PNG Scholarship. She says, “It is a good scholarship program. Apply for it!”