Boy’s brave canoe journey to get an education

How Nathan's quest for a good education took him on a three-week canoe journey that led to an Adventist school.

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Nathan with his headmaster Wesley Rapish.

Nathan comes from a tiny village on the border of Morobe and Northern Provinces in Morobe Patrol Post (Papua New Guinea). He had been living with his single mother and attending a primary school in the village. But the teachers were not committed—often not even turning up at the school.

Nathan had an aunt in Bulolo and had heard that there were better schools in Lae. So with a little money from his friends and a procured canoe, he set off on the trip of a lifetime in search of a good education.

It took him three weeks to paddle from his village to Lae across the Huon Gulf waters. He slept at night on the shore, sometimes burying himself in the sand to try to keep warm. He brought some sweet potato, bananas and other fruit with him, and he would also catch fish to eat.

Nathan’s adopted family.

When he arrived at a beach near Lae, he took his few clothes and hopped out of the canoe. Then, to make sure he stuck to his commitment to find a good school and not return to his village, he pushed the canoe back into the sea and watched it get destroyed by the crashing waves.

Nathan used the little money he had to catch a public motor vehicle to Bulolo. Unfortunately, he was not welcomed by his aunt so he spent time living with the street vendors.

One night a young Adventist pastor was returning from visiting and praying with church members and met Nathan. The boy shared his story and his desire for an education. The young minister, Glen Kintau, took Nathan home that night. He told Nathan his parents would provide him with a home and organise a school for him. Indeed, the minister’s father just happened to be Morobe Mission Education director Smith Kintau.

Nathan is now enrolled as a Grade 7 student at Gabensis Adventist Primary School. He says that he is very happy and grateful to have good and committed teachers and a better school.