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PNG Telefomin MP farewells Pioneer Teacher Ms. Glenda Giles

 Papua New Guinea Telefomin MP and Minister for Defence Hon Solan Mirisim was sad to learn of the recent announcement by Ms. Glenda Giles who retires from classroom teaching and left Oksapmin a place she calls home for decade long. 

Ms. Giles who came to Oksapmin Valley upon the invitation of the local people started what was known as Oksapmin High School in 2007 and taught in the school for 14 long years until her retirement in 2021.

PNG Telefomin MP farewells  Pioneer Teacher Ms. Glenda Giles

She was instrumental in the setup of the junior high school which eventually grew into a secondary school that has produced extraordinary results placing Oksapmin Secondary School on the national scale.

 “I personally on my people’s behalf would want to thank Ms. Glenda Giles for her endless commitment, hours of dedication and personal sacrifice to the people of Oksapmin for her service in education.

She is a true humble servant of the people, she has touched a lot of life in her social service in the community but most importantly she has imparted knowledge to the sons and daughters of Oksapmin who will be future leaders of the District.

Her service in education to the District of Telefomin and her contribution to Human Resource Development will leave a lasting legacy in the hearts and minds of the students she has taught for the long 14 years of her service to Oksapmin.

She is the foundation of what we see today. The achievements of Oksapmin Secondary School can be a testament of her hard work and contribution. She leaves behind a vacuum that will be hard to fill and for that I regret to let her go but the legacies she leaves behind will be the road map for the teachers and students to follow in the years ahead. 

With that I take my hats off for her and thank her in my heart for her tireless journey of educating the future human resource of the district.

We hold a great place for Ms. Glenda Giles in our heart and she will always be regarded as a local Oksapmin and Telefomin wherever her future takes her too.

We owe her a lot and only the Good Lord Our Savior will reward her for her massive contribution to our district Education. 

God Bless and farewell our Good Friend.”

Ms. Giles, holds an array of achievement since she came to PNG in 1967, serving its people. She is a pioneer educator and a humble missionary.

The article below is by MAF PNG

A Mother to a Nation

Miss Glenda Giles holds an impressive array of achievements, she is a pioneer, missionary and firm friend to MAF.

Born in New Zealand, Glenda began her outreach to the people of Papua New Guinea in 1967, moving to a remote region with Christian Brethren Churches to work on Bible translation. Completing a New Testament in a local Yuna dialect, Glenda decided to turn her focus to education. 

Photos: Glenda Giles at the Dedication of Duna New Testament

In 1976, she started a High School at Koroba in the mountainous Hela Province, then another in 1987 at Margarima. Becoming a secondary school inspector, Glenda went on to open Green River High School in 1991 and finally Oksapmin High School in 2007, both in the north-western Sandaun Province. The opening of these schools saw Glenda fully dependent on MAF, with aircraft providing the only way in out. 

Now well into her seventies and known affectionately as ‘Miss Glenda’, she is still teaching at Oksapmin, with a strong passion to educate future generations of local children. 

“It brings tears for me,” says Glenda as she reflects on her long-term partnership with MAF. “I am so grateful to MAF that they bought our papers so these students could sit their exams,” she says, smiling. 

Her classroom is light, airy and full of energy. English posters teach pronouns, verbs and prepositions, illustrated by jolly cartoons in many colours. Sunlight peeps in through tiny cracks in the walls, which are woven from long strands of reed. It feels like being encased inside a gigantic wicker basket. 

On the blackboard is a busy timetable, beginning at 7:45am and displaying a packed week of activity. Each day begins with a prayerful briefing and ends with sport. A poster next to Glenda’s desk displays colourful words declaring the name and character of Jesus. 

“This is a very remote place, the only way in and out is by plane,” Glenda explains. “Everything that we can’t produce for ourselves locally is brought in by MAF.”

Outside during recess, the older pupils are cutting the grass with long machetes. Young men are working on a building project, slicing huge lengths of bamboo ready to construct a big wooden frame for an outbuilding using similar, formidable blades. 

“We are very dependent on MAF,” says Glenda. “They bring in our mail. They deliver food for the students. If we are sick, they take us out. But most of all, they are our friends. They are friends of the students and friends of the teachers. They support us and share in all that we are doing here.”

This friendship is clear to see, and the students confirm how reliant they are on MAF’s little planes. 

Setting a writing assignment entitled ‘If Aeroplanes had Never Come’, Glenda helps her students anticipate the arrival of their exam papers with contemplation and gratitude. 

“If aeroplanes had never come to my valley, my family, my clan and I would be living in the Dark Ages without a single glimmer of light,” writes Nasep. 

“If aeroplanes had never come, most of the people couldn’t earn money. MAF brings in cargo, transports sick patients and takes out the vegetables we send to other places. It brings pastors in too!” enthuses Glen. 

“Without the plane,” writes Gondo, “people would have no medical aid, no church and no school. People might not even know who God is. We say thank you to MAF because the plane came and brought us all of this.”

Like so many schools across PNG, Okspamin High School is understaffed, crowded and has minimal resources. Yet many of the 120 students will out-perform those in PNG’s most prestigious colleges, ranking it among the top ten schools in the country. 

These results are a testament to the excellence and commitment of one extraordinary, faith-filled woman and the students she has committed her life to. 

“But,” Glenda concludes, “I can say that if there was no MAF, we wouldn’t be here at all. And these children would not be getting the education that they deserve.”

"A lot of the students in PNG have testimonies about Miss Glenda. She is not just a principal and teacher; she is a mother to our nation." Juda, Former student, now a teacher at Okspamin High School

Photos: Glenda Giles at the Dedication of Duna New Testament. Glenda Giles with MAF pilots Holger Lasi and Mathias Glass at Tekin. Grade 9 classroom

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