My name is Sasa Zibe-Kokino. I come from Zia tribe in Waria
Valley, from Bau, one of the coastal villages. The only
Primary school available that time was located more than twenty kilometers away from
The Waria Valley is the ancestral fortress of the Zia tribe
(7,000 people.) The Zia tribe comprised
of 18 villages located along the Waria River and the coastline. The tribe has four major clans, which is still in
existent. The tribal law/rules restrict marriage within
the clan. Clans support each other and the members within.
Land area in PNG is held at 97% in traditional
Traditionally, land belonged to the people and not institutions
like government, churches, companies, or councils. A
person's right to use the land comes from his membership
of a line, tribe or clan that is descended from the first
people to settle the land. The names of the
tribes/clans and the authority they give are passed from
generation to generation through word of mouth, illustrated
by actions or symbols, from elders to youngsters. In
this way, members of the same kinship know their land rights
with simplicity, and without confusion.
I just want to share with you a short memory lane
story of my childhood days at elementary
school from 1968 - 1972:
When I was 10 years old my mother decided that
I should move to a boarding school, a dormitory build by our
own parents from bush materials. The students grow their own
food, cook own meals, and provide self logistics. I stayed there for 4 years and completed Grade 6 and went
to a boarding High school in Lae city in 1973.
My life in this boarding school in Waria Valley was
quite exciting and a great experience. My friends
and I grew our own foods and cooked our own meals. We even built
bush material classrooms and desks. The school grounds are
located almost 1.3 kilometers away from Waria River where
one take bath and fetch drinking water every morning and
evenings. We all relied on each other.
I can remember one thing which I still talk about to this
day - most students did not have towels, proper clothing, or
most basic things
in life. On the way to the river for morning bath we collected many dry leaves from the banana trees and lit
a big bonfire
to dry ourselves after diving into the cold Waria River. This
was my life for four solid years. We used to have two pencils and three
textbooks for an entire year of school. There
was hardly no library books. However, with little
knowledge of the outside world, I always thought this was
quite a luxury life. Even so, I cannot remember
my mother owning any basic household
material things in our bush material house.
I started reading library books when I entered High school
and learned about other people's ways of life.
I felt sorry for myself and cursed the world for being so
unkind and unequal. Other people in this world consume
so many resources and energy capitalizing on the ignorance
From that day on, I decided to help my people. I
read more library books and studied very hard. I completed
the high school and won a scholarship and studied Forestry
Science for three years. After two years
working with a logging company, I won a major national
scholarship and ended up in North Wales University in United
Kingdom. After three years I graduated with Bachelor of
Science Specializing in Timber and Wood Technology.
Five years later I set up my own development organization, "Village Development Trust", a
non-government organization. Through this
organization I developed a global network which 1)
enhances the delivery of basic goods and services, and
2) empowers many
people in PNG, and my own people in the Waria Valley.
In March 2001, a team of English teachers from Japan visited
PNG. This is where I met Mr.
Carlo Capua, a young man with great heart. He felt
and saw the remnants of my life that I have been through
some 30 years ago.
That is where, Mr. Capua and his comrades decided to
work with the people of Waria Valley, supporting
education and working to eradicate socioeconomic poverty. My people
and I have vowed and honored our commitment to support these
Through the advent of Tomorrow's Forest, we have ongoing
support, from the grassroots level to the government. All materials and
cash donations comes
through VDT (Village Development Trust) and is passed
directly to the people. This system is set up to ensure transparency,
accountability and good governance.
Your generous donations are transferred by Mr.
Capua in Japan or America to Tomorrows Forest committees
through VDT. We use the the money to:
1) set up a scholarship fund. Students who
cannot afford $20/year tuition can borrow from it and attend
2) fund construction of teachers' houses.
3) Continued cultural exchange activities between
Japan, PNG, and the USA.
The people of Waria Valley acknowledge and value your
great contribution, support, and awareness of our activities.
Sasa Zibe Kokino
PNG Minister for the Environment and Conservation,