Alakasam, Komgi, Matupit, and Raluana - Well-Being

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The highlands of East New Britain have no shortage of fresh water since it can be collected directly from streams and springs. However, the minimal amount of rainfall during the coastal dry seasons visibly impacts the lifestyle of those living in the areas, as is the case in Raluana and Matupit. During our stay in Raluana, it was necessary to regulate the amount of water we used for brushing our teeth and drinking because, as a result of the dry season, there was only one tank of drinkable water that was rapidly dwindling with the number of people using it. When there is a short supply of rainwater, shallow wells dug on or near the beaches provide a source of fresh water which can be used for bathing and cooking. For some areas in the community, the beach is a significant distance down the mountainside making the water not as accessible. To provide the community with fresh water, there is a truck that makes deliveries of fresh water to any family that has paid for the service. Just like the people of Matupit, many must travel for hours to get fresh water for drinking to bring back to the community.

Children generally enter into the education system at the age of seven, at which time they begin grade one of primary school. While attendance is strongly encouraged, there are school fees which increase with grade level. Elementary education fees generally begin at around 80 Kina. In most communities, there is a system in place that provides aid to families who may not be able to afford these school fees to ensure that as many children as possible can attend school. Once they have completed primary school and secondary school, some students continue on to take a standardized test, which they must pass to be admitted into high school. School fees for high school increase drastically and the facilities are located further away from the villages requiring the families to find accommodations for their children. The total cost of attending high school increases exponentially resulting in a decrease in attendance. While primary schools are generally located within a community, secondary schools and high schools are regionally based. For example, the community of Raluana has its own primary school, but once the children reach secondary school, they travel to a nearby community where the school is shared between the surrounding villages. If the regional school is a long distance away or if there is no primary school in the community, children often stay with family or friends during the school week, returning home on weekends. Such is the case with the youth of Komgi.

Date Entered: June 2010