Papua New Guineans are used to negative news headlines about their country and hearing that living standards and services are getting worse.
But journalist Scott Waide has made it his mission to highlight how hard work and a positive attitude can transform ordinary Papua New Guineans into leaders, and setbacks into successes.
Waide knows himself about making something from nothing.
He taught himself to cook pizzas in a cheap drum oven and sold it on the streets of Port Moresby so he could support his family while his wife studied.
Then he built a career as one of PNG’s most experienced and respected journalists, and is now the bureau chief for EMTV in Lae.
But the relentless negativity of reporting on PNG’s violence, crumbling infrastructure and poor governance has worn him down, he told ABC News.
“Sometimes I go home feeling very depressed about all the negativity,” he said.
So he decided to do something positive instead.
“One morning I woke up and said, ‘I’m going to do something very positive. For this week, I’m going to do very positive things’.”
So Waide started a blog about Papua New Guineans who had overcome challenges or whose positive attitude stood out.
The stories didn’t focus on the powerful people who dominate PNG’s often sycophantic domestic news coverage, but the men and women of PNG’s villages, settlements and suburbs.
“Local heroes, basically. Not the politicians, not the bureaucrats, not the businessmen – just the ordinary, everyday heroes,” Waide said.
“Those who go about doing their work without complaining about issues that affect them, those who accept the way of life and battle on.”
Waide’s blog is simply called Inspirational Papua New Guineans.
It profiles teachers, doctors, community leaders, a designer who turned PNG’s ubiquitous woven carry bags known as bilums into dresses, a high school student who sold soft drinks to buy a calculator and a man who left a crime gang to become a founding father of basketball in PNG.
The themes are consistent – perseverance and overcoming obstacles, things every Papua New Guinean can relate to.
Even with PNG’s limited internet connectivity, the blog has reached tens of thousands of people.
“After several posts I realised there was a thirst for this kind of material. People were really hungry for it,” Waide said.
“They wanted to read and on the blog stats I was getting an average of 20,000 to 50,000 hits a day, so it’s quite a surprising response I got on the blog itself.”
He believes he had provided something Papua New Guineans were desperately seeking – proof that their struggles mattered.
In a country with enormous challenges of poverty, corruption and violence, the act of honouring people who succeeded despite their circumstances has started to encourage others to stay positive and work towards a better life.
“The feedback that I’m getting is that these are the kinds of stories that should be in the schools and it should be broadcast on mainstream media, but sometimes it’s difficult to do that,” Waide said.
“They are identifying with the characters, they feel the pain that this person is going through.
“Or they’re so happy with the success that this other person has gone through and they look at where he came from, where he is now, or where she came from.
“It’s created that demand for more of such stories.”
He said his blog has made people ask why they’re suffering and demand answers from the people in charge.
“If you put out the positive and you put that out in public, people will connect the dots and then start demanding better services, start demanding that those in power are held accountable for their actions,” he said.
Some of the blog’s most avid readers are teachers in the rural parts of Papua New Guinea.
They download the posts when they come back to towns with mobile coverage and take them back for their students.
Waide would like his material to be given to schools to show their students that there is dignity and potential in their lives.
He’s also looking to turn the blog into a book and says he’s been inundated with suggestions of new people to profile.
Waide’s desire to do something positive has now inspired countless others to do the same.