by Ms. Janet Patricia Thomas, Docent
Born in 1991, at Koroba in the Lake Kopiago district of the Hela Province, I am a proud daughter of our founding ancestor Hela.
As National Marketing Coordinator for Marpex Training Institute, I’ve travelled the jungles, crisscrossed over the rugged terrains of the Highlands, the swampy mangroves of the coastline, and the blue oceans of the islands – always reaching out to the 18,000 students leaving the school system every year.
My vision is to be a living example of pride and service for a new generation of women for both the Hela Province and the nation. I will climb any mountain and walk days through the jungles just to bring pride, power and purpose to the uneducated citizens of Papua New Guinea. Marpex Training Institute gives me the platform and tools to fulfill their mission of training uneducated youth and welcoming them into the workforce.
My mission in life is to reach the unreached, touch the untouched, and explore the unexplored — all in order to help Papua New Guineans reach for their dreams and make them come true through quality training and education.
My main desire in life is to serve school leavers and leave none of them behind with unfinished dreams.
I’ve climbed many rugged mountains, and I’ve walked through the jungle for two to four days to places where there are no government services such as bridges, schools and health care centers; all this to bring basic literacy and vocational training to help the hidden and forgotten youth of Papua New Guinea.
Exploring the Unexplored, and Reaching the Unreachable, I’ve Come to Realize Hela Traditional Norms and Values are Dying Out Quickly! Hela traditional norms and values are quickly dying out. Parents need to educate their children, during holidays and visits home, at least helping their children learn their culture and the way we live.
Young people need to go back home and learn the basics on how to sing, eat, and sleep, etc. Our youth must sit at the feet of our elders and learn about our culture, family genealogies, land rights, and more. In doing so we keep Hela Huli culture alive for generations to come.
Our living culture is our pride – not just for our old people — but also for today’s generation that struggles with self-identity in this changing world.
You can see that many Helan children have mixed everything together in today’s ever- changing dress code. Do our youth really know how or why we sometimes wear the clothes of the past?
As a Helan woman, I raise my hand to advocate for my young Helan women and men to keep the Huli culture going. I will disagree with our young people or photographers taking away our untouched virgin environment — the beauty of Hela — and posting unnecessary comments and photos on social media that take away the value of our beautiful Hela. Instead we should protect these young Hela and bring tourists from all around the globe to visit despite the negativity given by some PNG people.
We can be agents of positive cultural change in beautiful Hela through cultural public awareness in Hela schools. We can make future goals like building a physical museum to display our Huli traditional attire, spears, bow & arrows, and items from the times of our ancestors.
You and I want to protect our Hela culture through public awareness in all schools and public areas, from generation to generation with the help of the few old people left in Hela who know the sacred myths and legends.
I appeal to the provincial government to not only support our digital museum, but also, to build a physical museum to house out traditional attire and Hela cultural artifacts from generation to generation.
May our holy ancestors bless this important work – our Huli Museum – and help us celebrate and preserve Huli culture.
Janet Patricia Thomas, Docent