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  • Jane Wheeler

A Component Called "Others"

The span between Christmas and New Year’s is usually not quite as hectic as the weeks preceding Christmas. It is often a time where we can spend some reflective time to look over the past year, and look to the future to see where we are headed and make some goals and plans.

What if, in our reflective time we added a component to our plans, let’s call it “others”?

What I mean by that is, there are people who you and I know who seem to have changed the world by their very presence. Actually we all change the world by our very presence but some of us have greater influence than others. I pondered, what is it about those ones who have the greater influence? I came up with the following conclusion: it is the component called “others”.

The common characteristic of these people is they are self-less. They care less about themselves and more about the cares and concerns of others. Mother Teresa was a prime example.

In our North American culture today, we have stuck pretty close to the saying “looking out for number one”. Now looking out for yourself and your family is not wrong and human instinct kicks in naturally. But as I was looking at the faces of the people shopping in the stores these past couple weeks, they are anything but happy, in fact, many were down right miserable.

Listening to the students in the library all last year, listening to others around me, and then in Richmond, Virginia at the International conference I attended, hearing the worldwide epidemic of “hopelessness”, well it just has me thinking.

What if looking out for the betterment of “others” actually makes you happier and gives you hope? You be the change; now there is a thought and possibly a goal…

I want to share this story with you.

In Papua New Guinea there is a man, barely 5’ tall, so you could not say he “stands out in the crowd” but actually he does.

In 1981, Wionare Mitimu completed grade six in the Eastern Highlands where his father worked as a missionary. There was little hope of going on to high school because his family could not afford the school fees.

In 1994, he started training as a “preschool” teacher. This involved learning how to use local languages in preschool education. In 2003, he was called to Ukarumpa in the Eastern Highlands where he started a two year course called “Strengthening Tokples Education in PNG” or STEP.

Wionare went on to use his training to train others to become preschool teachers, but not just in populated places. His students and his dedication took him to some remote places on the whole planet, in Papua New Guinea. Wionare has spent his life training others.

Wionare started training 20 preschool teachers, then another 20 and in total he trained 67 preschool teachers. 27 of those teachers were from his own language group and those 27 each started their own preschool. It takes a year to complete the training.

Did it make a difference?

“Some of his students are training to be pilots….One of my former students is a surgeon at the Goroka Hospital. Two girls are studying to be teachers at the University of Goroka. Another girl has graduated as a nurse. They are all my students. They come from my village.”

One of the things that astounds many people who come to learn about Wionare’s feats, is that none of the preschool teachers he trained get fortnightly salaries like their colleagues in government and church run schools.

“They don’t get paid money. The community gives them a house, makes their food gardens for them. The community supports them.

“Every six months, the people give them a small cash compensation they collect in a bilum. Then at the end of the year, we make a small kaikai and say ‘thank you’ to them.”

The preschool teachers do not get “paid” – let that sink in for a couple of moments.

Wionare started out “stuck” in life. Money poor, rural and rugged climate, not fully educated, he did not have the opportunities that most of us have, but he had “heart”.

Do you feel “stuck” in life? Wondering how to put purpose and meaning into something that you do? When you are pondering about next year, why not put a component called “others” into your plans? There are so many volunteer opportunities around, so many people needing help and hope in their life.

Who knows, by mentoring or helping just one other person, you get the benefit of purpose and meaning and you are being the change that this world needs.

*Wionare’s full story:

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