I live in my village and have been commuting to Mt.Hagen for work for the last 15 yrs (not in the wilderness as you think). I don't think I have heard people talking about your group prior to this election. You know very well at election times, every candidate is always hot which gets everyone excited. As you may also know, villagers nowadays are very political savvy and at the same time are good con artists. They get excited and go in with the flow and can get you to fly on Cloud 9 but deep down, they have already made their choice on who to vote. You get the message now.
Anyways this is not a new thing and I hope your group had done the groundwork. It does not matter whether you have professional people involved or have so many candidates endorsed. The things that do matter are whether you have done the groundwork at the grassroots level and whether the grassroots people know you.