People from remote Kokorogoro village in Inland Rigo, Central province, were empowered in a big way when Goroka maverick Barclay Kaupa dropped in.
The Goroka-based soap maker was brought in by non-government organisation, ChildFund PNG, to teach the villagers about making soap at a weeklong workshop from May 22-27.
|Barclay Kaupa and Fiona Fandim with happy and empowered villagers|
Kaupa, true to style, not only taught 25 participants from four villages about making soap but also showed them how to produce their own jam and peanut butter using local products, rebuild their inland fish farming project, and the gospel of self-reliance.
|Empowered...Inland Rigo villagers washing their hands with soap they made themselves|
“Under ChildFund’s water and sanitation programme, we taught the villagers how to make soap using caustic soda, oil and water,” he says.
“We also taught the villagers how to make jam and peanut butter using local ingredients.
|Pineapple and pawpaw being sliced to make jam|
“I told them that we are imprisoned by our attitude problem.
“This is the biggest problem affecting Papua New Guinea’s development.
“The government should step in and support such small initiatives.
“We are importing almost everything in this country.
“We can add value to many of our products, create jobs, and reduce poverty and law-and-order problems.
“The government has been preaching about downstream processing, but next to nothing has been achieved.”
Fiona Fandim, water and sanitation project officer with ChildFund, so was impressed with Kaupa for going that extra mile.
“We were so impressed,” she says.
“It was a very successful training and people were much empowered by it.
“We brought Barclay in specifically to teach people about making soap, however, he also taught them about making jam and peanut butter, inland fish farming, and self-reliance and community development.”
ChildFund is a children-focused NGO which has programmes in education, health, youth HIV/AIDS, food security and livelihood, water and sanitation, and community development.
I know Kaupa from my years in Goroka from 1998-2002, when my late wife and I were regular customers of his for fresh honey, as well as homemade soap and detergent for the house, and can vouch for their quality.
Despite being a Grade 10 dropout in 1984, Kaupa’s extensive use of the Goroka Public Library and the University of Goroka Library – through a lot of reading – helped him to start his honey and soap business.
Kaupa ran Jauka Honey, a small honey and soap-making set-up at Kama in Goroka, until business was affected by the bee mite about three years ago,
In May 2005, he was named as best small business by the Small Business Development Corporation at the PNG Coffee Festival and Trade Fair and pocketed the K800 first prize.
Reading was the secret to the sweet success of his honey and soap-making business.
Kaupa, from Lapeigu village outside Goroka, completed his Grade 10 at Asaroka Lutheran High School in 1984 – with no offers for further education or employment.
“When I left school,” he tells me in a 2005 interview, “I felt that I was helpless and hopeless.
“I felt out of place and I used to spend all of my time in the garden growing vegetables.”
In 1986, the disillusioned young man managed to secure a job with Lamana Wholesale in Goroka, a job he held until the company wound up in 1990.
“The little money that I saved, I used to buy off a couple of beehives from a wantok,” Kaupa says.
“This was a completely new area into which I was venturing.
“I went into libraries in Goroka, where I read a lot of books about beekeeping.”
He had a coffee plot at Lapeigu, and soon realised that he could have a sustained cash flow all year round, if he grew coffee and raised bees together.
Towards the end of 1996, the young beekeeper approached Benny Jauka, the owner of Gamesano Trading in Kama, for assistance to get the honey project off the ground.
“He saw that it was a good idea,” Kaupa says.
“I helped in the shop until September 1997, when with Mr Jauka’s assistance, the Westpac Bank approved my loan, which I used to buy honey-processing equipment from New Zealand through the Department of Agriculture and Livestock.
“We started honey production in December 1997.”
Jauka honey was distributed mainly in Goroka and Lae, where – through Rabtrad – was distributed by Andersons Foodland stores nationwide.
In August 1998, the innovative Kaupa ventured into soap production using bee wax.
It was trialed in the hauslains of Goroka by the people who mattered – mothers – and they gave it the thumbs up.
“It took us six months to carry out experiements to find out which soap was best for the hauslains,” he recalls.
Thus was born the Nokorowa Soap.
The soap proved to be a big hit in Goroka, and was distributed throughout the highlands.
“The bar of soap sells fast,” Kaupa says.
“People realise the quality; it lasts and it saves them a lot of money.
“One bar of Nokorowa Soap is equal to three of four bars of other soap brands that you buy in shops.
“However, we need money to improve the quality of our soap.“The vision is there, but we need help so that can go into mass production and supply the whole country.”
Towards the end of 1999, Kaupa ventured into yet another product, the Nokorowa Soap Powder.
The soap is ground up into fine powder, and then packed and sold as a grassroots alternative to the familiar Omo and Cold Power.
Nokorowa Soap Powder is now a familiar sight in the shops of Goroka.
Kaupa is a fervent believer in self-reliance and independence, and speaks out strongly against the handout mentality.
“We believe in self-reliance,” he says.
“We believe that we can do it ourselves.
“If our ancestors could survive for over 50,000 years doing things themselves, why can’t we do things ourselves?
“Be independent rather than depending on outside assistance.
“If we in PNG want to be really independent, why can’t we do things ourselves?
“Be independent rather than depend on outside assistance.
“If we in PNG want to be really independent, let’s do things ourselves; there is still hope.
“Our grandfather experienced real independence, not like these last 30 years.”
Kaupa says the education system, which makes dropouts out of young men and women, is largely to blame for many of the social ills of today.
“The system has created many of the problems we currently have, such as crime and poverty.
“However, I believe that without formal qualifications, you can succeed if you read a lot.
“I read a lot in the libraries, obtained more information, did more research on honey and that’s how it all started.”
Barclay Kaupa can be contacted on mobile 72486527.