Global Friends Network, in cooperation with Continental Airlines, Air New Zealand and residents of The Woodlands, is pleased to announce that a shipment containing over 250 pounds of educational materials is en route to Papua New Guinea. The effort, which was spearheaded by marine naturalist, underwater protographer and Global Friends Network director, Julianne Ziefle, will benefit a community school in the village of Sawasawaga, located in the Mille Bay Province of PNG. Mrs. Ziefle notes that "The real credit goes to those who helped. A project like this can only be successful with the help of the entire community. I like to call it Global Friends Network. That's what we're doing here, networking resources."
The project was born during a recent scuba diving/photography trip Mrs. Ziefle took to Papua New Guinea. While in Mille Bay, she had an opportunity to meet the people of the Sawasawaga community and the children who attend the local community school. Here she found an enthusiastic group of well organized villagers, hungry for educational materials. The village is very primitive (the standard mode of transportation is dug out canoe) and the residents are in need of basic reading, writing and math skills. To develop these skills, they need written educational materials, which Global Friends Network, with the assistance of several individuals and organizations, has arranged to provide. This is not the first shipment of this kind organized by Mrs. Ziefle. In 1993, a similar project was undertaken by Mrs. Ziefle and a shipment was delivered to the Patanga Community School in West New Brittan province, PNG.
"An enormous amount of assistance was provided by the Conroe Independent School System, and in particular, the students and teachers of Collins Intermediate School in The Woodlands." says Mrs. Ziefle. "I called Cindy Green with C.I.S.D. and she opened the door to what she called "sending books to schoolbook heaven". Spelling, Math and basic English reading materials, along with workbooks and teaching manuals made their way. "Sixth graders, and their teachers, Mary Helen Kirby, Susan Babic, Carolyn Hopper and Nancy Thayer, helped tremendously. Mrs. Debbie Knox, Collin's Librarian, sent out a call for books, and parents gave from their home libraries." The materials included a set of paperback reading books for children, other children's books and a set of books by Jacques Cousteau which were donated by Ms. Lynn Funkhouser. "Lynn and I discussed the project at DEMA (an international scuba diving association trade show); and we agreed that the materials should include books to teach the children about the marine environment, Lynn was generous enough to donate part of her collection." The Woodlands Dental group rounded out the shipment with a contribution of toothbrushes, toothpaste.
"It was a community effort, but it would have been absolutely impossible without the help of those who will deliver these materials to PNG." Afterpackaging the cargo for shipment, Mrs. Ziefle delivered the boxes to Continental Airlines for transportation to Los Angeles. There, the boxes were transferred to Air New Zealand who agreed to take the delivery to Cairns, Austrailia. In Caims, the materials will be loaded on the liveaboard dive vessel "MV Golden Dawn" for carriage to their final destination. Golden Dawn captain/owner Craig DeWit and his crew will travel around the eastern cape of PNG and deliver the shipment to the village of Sawasawaga in late June.
Mrs. Ziefle hopes to travel to PNG again in the future to visit this school and report on the progress of the students. "I'm certain they will use these materials wisely. It is by no means a complete library, but at least now they have a start" she says. "I hope to do this again. We'll just have to wait for the next window of opportunity. Education and children are at the top of my list of priorities and I will continue to assist them whenever possible."
Julianne Zielfe is a professional photographer and u/w naturalist. She frequents classrooms in her local school district speaking about the marine environment. She is also an active DAN volunteer/sponsor. Her work with the PGA event, the Shell Houston Open helps raise funds for Houston Children's Charities and she is also involved in other philanthropic endeavors with the Gulf of Mexico Foundation.