BY DANIEL KUMBON
In 1964, a curious young man wearing just ‘ass tanget’ sheets wandered into a newly established Catholic mission near his mountain valley.
New priests had arrived in Enga to lead the mission and establish the Catholic faith. Their instructions were simple. Build schools and health centers.
One of these early centers of learning was the Catholic mission at Tsikiro.
This was the first educational institution that the young Paul Kurai set his sights on.
In a bush house, priests taught young natives a new language, a different counting system, and encouraged them to read and write.
Kurai’s interest was enlightened.
He wanted to learn the ways of the priest. He wanted to master the white man’s language.
It was different from his Engan warrior culture.
Paul Kurai convinced the priests and he became one of the first of his tribe to attend a formal school.
Since that first “contact”, Paul Kurai has slowly worked his way up the learning ladder to become one of Enga’s successful businessmen and philanthropists.
Since then, he has never forgotten his educational roots.
Through his new Kurai Foundation – named after his father – Paul Kurai still supports the school that established him for life.
Recently, Mr. Kurai donated 21,000K to Tsikiro Catholic Mission for the first time through his new Kurai Foundation.
He has yet to officially launch the foundation in Wabag and Port Moresby, but requests for help have already started pouring in, with some coming from as far away as Mendi in neighboring Southern Highlands province.
Kurai said the K21,000 was for the congregation to do church maintenance work. Upon receiving the cheque, local priest Fr James Kambao said he was grateful to receive the money on behalf of his parishioners and that they would put this generous donation to good use.
Father Kambao said that Paul Kurai has continuously supported the church in the province, but he has given more to the parish of Tsikiro.
Mr. Kurai had previously donated K25,000 to Tsikiro Parish and provided benches inside the building worth around K250,000. In addition to that, he had donated a brand new 10-seater Land Cruiser .
“This is where I went to school in 1964 and I have to keep giving back to my old school,” said Paul Kurai.
He completed 6th grade there in 1969, but due to limited space in high school, Paul Kurai repeated 6th grade the following year at Wanepap Catholic Mission in Laiagam and went to 7th grade at Fatima High School in 1971.
The rest is history. He is now the general manager of K Star Construction and several other companies.
He owns the Ribito Hotel in the town of Wabag.
Last month, Paul Kurai officially announced the establishment of the Kurai Foundation at the burial site of the late High Chief Sir Michael Somare in Wewak.
His company has been awarded several infrastructure improvement projects in the provinces of East and West Sepik by the European Union under its STREIT program.
“I am happy to announce the establishment of the Kurai Foundation right here in Wewak, where the Grand Chief watches over all of us in PNG.
“I will use the funds from my Sepik contracts to firmly establish my new charity to ensure that the blessings of the European Union continue to flow to many more people in Enga Province and others in PNG “, did he declare.
The Kurai Foundation will soon be officially launched in Wabag and Port Moresby.