The Max Benjamin Elementary School (MBES) was conceptualised in 2010. Walindi was approached by Mrs Mary Loi, a Councillor from Kulungi Community nearby to help establish an Elementary School to service the growing population in the surrounding communities of nearby Tamare Village, Mahonia Na Dari Research and Conservation Centre, Walindi Plantation Resort and Kilu Village. Walindi Plantation embraced the challenge and made land available for the school site. Building commenced in 2011. The first students started classes in February 2011, and for two years classes were held in some Walindi Plantation housing until the first double classroom building was completed in 2013. The school was officially opened on Tuesday the 23rd of April 2013 by the West New Britain Provincial Governor Hon. Sasindran Muthuvel. The school was named in honour of Max Benjamin, who lent Walindi’s support behind the concept and establishment. The school now has four classrooms (two double classrooms), including a library/activity/staff centre plus a principal and teacher's residence. Classes are Observers (kindergarten), Preparatory, Elementary 1 and Elementary 2. The school grew rapidly to have over 100 students attending in the space of three short years. Ages range from about 5 years to 10 years. All curriculum teaching is conducted in English, a decision that has been well received and supported by parents as is evident by the number of children attending. The Principal and Board are responsible for direction and school management.
Aside from donating the land for the school site, Walindi also continues to donate time, labour, resources and finances in order to keep the school running. Resort guests have generously donated over the last years to evenings of traditional dancing conducted by students from the school. Donations have come in from outside organizations, individual donors, as well as other schools in Australia. These donations have helped pay additional teacher’s salaries, school resources such as pencils, writing books, pens, paper etc. and assisted with some new classroom development. A special private donation led to the construction of the Principal and teacher's on-site residence. MBES is one of the few Elementary schools in the Province which has teacher’s housing onsite. This allows for better management and supervision of the school.
The schools are only partly funded by the government, therefore much of their day-to-day operations rely on donations from Walindi Resort and guests to keep them running. If you would like to help the schools you can contact the resort directly.
June 2015 saw the start of construction of the new Walindi Primary School on the northern end of Walindi Plantation. The land has been donated by Walindi's owners Max and Cecilie Benjamin and was constructed by Walindi at cost.
Following on from the successful completion of the Max Benjamin Elementary School which is established on the southern end of Walindi Plantation, the first of two double classrooms were completed and accepted its first students in 2016. 225 students were enrolled at closing day, 3rd December 2019.
It is with thanks to West New Britain Governor Muthuvel and his WNB Provincial Government that the project has was able to commence with a most generous grant. Governor Muthuvel’s support for education projects in the Province is well known.
This was an ambitious project but within the space of 2 and a half years, (June 2015 to December 2017) a complete Primary School facility had been constructed from Grade 3 to Grade 8 classroom capacity which was quite an achievement due to cooperation and sound partnership between Walindi Resort, Governor Sasindran Muthuvel and the West New Britain Provincial Government.
The Walindi Primary School has a stunning view across Kimbe Bay and we hope this will not provide a distraction to studies.
Walindi Resort actively supports the local community, so that they can benefit from tourism in the area. This is done in a number of ways, such as, employment, education, sanitation, supporting local charities, purchasing from local suppliers, working with communities and offering new opportunities for local small entrepreneurs.
Walindi is a significant employer in the community. Walindi employs approximately 60 staff members, from surrounding villages as well as mainland PNG. All employees are trained in-house and paid at fair wages. Walindi ensures that all employees are provided with a safe working environment, and for those not from the surrounding villages Walindi also provides free housing along with free electricity and water. Staff turnover is generally very low which is in no doubt thanks to the support and working conditions offered by Walindi.
Walindi Resort is a true believer in the value of education and is focused on making a significant contribution to the local people and economy through education and training initiatives. Apart from the training provided to all staff members, and establishing the schools onsite, Walindi strives to support the local community and economy through: donations to other local and national schools, providing internships and work experience opportunities in all departments of the resort and offering a free school bus service for all children living on-site who attend schools in Kimbe town.
The resort also provides a number of services, amenities and facilities that would otherwise not be available in the local community. Staff members living on Walindi property have better sanitation, free water and electricity and access to free medical advice and basic medical treatment and medication. Walindi also allows the neighbouring village to pipe water from a natural spring (on Walindi land) directly into the village, allowing free and easy access to safe drinking water. The resort also provides financial donations to local sporting clubs, hospitals, local businesses as well as interest free microloans to all staff members.
Walindi also supports the economy through contributions to national insurance, and contributions to government revenues (through payment of direct and indirect taxes, foreign exchange earnings and licence fees). Walindi Resort’s continuous marketing and promotion of Kimbe Bay as a tourist destination has also brought unmeasurable benefits to the tourism industry and the economy as a whole. Purchasing goods locally and providing a market for certain international produce otherwise not sold in Kimbe town also boosts the local economy.
In an effort to assist local entrepreneurs Walindi attends and contributes to village and town community meetings. The resort supports indigenous artistry through the Blue Taro Boutique that sells local carvings and handicrafts. All of the carvings and the artwork displayed around the main house and in the Bungalows are from local artists. The resort also assists local communities where possible with any desire to protect their terrestrial environment. This ranges from establishing new birdwatching or land tour sites so communities can collect a land-use fee from each guest that visits to providing free signposts for Wildlife Management Areas to remind people of restrictions in the area. We encourage villages to open a community bank account so that fees from tourists can go towards joint community entrepreneurial projects.
Clean drinking water from Walindi's spring, tour fees to the village help to maintain this.
The resort's restaurant sources majority of its fruits, vegetables and herbs from staff members, the neighbouring villages and from the sellers at the Kimbe markets that grow everything in their own organic gardens. All our beef, pork, chicken and fish is also bought from local suppliers. We also support sustainable fishing practices and do not serve endangered or threatened fish in the restaurant.
Local women each day bring their surplus produce directly from their gardens for sale to the resort kitchen. Walking around the resort you will also find a number of fruit trees, vegetables and herbs that supply the restaurant. Just to name a few; pawpaw/papaya, coconuts, mangoes, bananas, limes, pomelos, pineapples, chillies and Galips (a local nut).
Buying locally is crucial, as it enables the villages and the local community to benefit from tourism. As much as possible, we use local suppliers for other commodities such as processed food, building and cleaning materials. Purchasing supplies locally and directly from the producers has the added benefits of minimizing the negative effects of transportation, packaging and waste.
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