Tony Friend Scholarship for Telefomin & Oksapmin Students MARIA WRONSKA-FRIEND
Tony Friend, a kiap who also worked as a development officer and community liaison officer, spent more than thirty years in remote areas of Papua New Guinea. For almost half of the time he was based at Oksapmin and Telefomin in the cloud-covered mountains of the West Sepik Province.
SADLY Tony DIED in Cairns in August 2017 (see Una Voce, December 2017, or www. Ex-kiap Network Forum The Last Patrol). His life was fondly remembered not only by his Australian colleagues, but also by Papua New Guinea people.
Tony greatly valued education and during his years in PNG he supported a number of high school and college students. Therefore, to commemorate Tony’s life, his family and friends decided to set up the Tony Friend Scholarship to support students at Telefomin and Oksapmin (Tekin) High Schools.
Remoteness and the high cost of air freight mean that the day students have to pay an annual fee of 1,100 Kina, while boarding students pay 1,600 Kina. Parents in those remote locations, with limited sources of income, frequently find it difficult to pay the school fees.
The project started in early 2018 and, initially, four students from both schools received financial support. In the following years the number of sponsored students significantly increased. Last year twenty-two students received Tony Friend Scholarships worth 25,580 Kina. In 2021 the project grew even further, with twelve sponsors from six countries—USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Poland and Australia—donating a total of 27,000 Kina (approximately A$10,000). The recipients of the scholarship are selected by high school principals and teachers.
Priority is given to students who have good academic results but whose parents have no regular source of income, or who are from incomplete families. The money is paid directly into the school account.
In December 2020 the first Oksapmin students, Raino Selot from Daburap and Jackford Harmon from Tomianap, completed Grade 12 with excellent results. Subsequently, they enrolled at the University of Technology in Lae to study electrical engineering as well as applied physics and electronics.
Nowadays, internet access is common even in such remote parts of PNG as Telefomin District, with Facebook becoming the accepted way of communication. Once the information of the Tony Friend Scholarship was announced on the Facebook pages of the Telefomin District Forum, dozens of comments were posted. Here are some of them:
Congratulations to the recipients of the sponsorship. The name Tony Friend is still alive today and for the years to come.
I feel humbled and touched by this simple but very beneficial scholarship program by the family of this great man who lived among us throughout the 80s and 90s. Born and grew up in the 80s, had fond childhood memories of this most popular expert and a pioneer among the Trefols who contributed to the district development back then. Though he is no longer with us, his name lives on to tell a story that my son will know through this program. Thank you, Maria Friend and other family members. God may bless your kind hearts. He was truly a pioneer developer for us.
Titwii Elhayabrel Nilmonz
Thanks for your support and great initiative to our students… May Lord Above bless you, your families, your friends and nation where you are living and support our students.
Enick Caltez Neckols
Thank you for the opportunity provided for educating our children. With such opportunities, the future looks promising.
The Tony Friend Scholarship program will run for ten years, benefiting the Telefomin and Oksapmin High School students at least until 2027. For further information, please contact: email@example.com