By Willie Tiwias
This is the real story of how I struggle to come to Port Moresby in search of education.
I come from a small village called Taingama in the Manyamya District of Morobe province. My village is on the border of Morobe and Gulf province. Taingama village is located right in the jungle where there are no road linking to schools and villages. The place where the school is, you’ll walk one whole day to get there.
In 2008, the PNG government introduced an Elementary school in our village. They start developing the place and build new classrooms and teacher’s houses. Teachers came from within Morobe province to teach at our new Elementary school and were very pleased to teach us. I did my Elementary at our new school and our teacher thought us in our own language. Three years in Elementary school, in 2010 they selected me to go to community school but the community school was far from my village and people from that village didn’t want to get students from other villages. So I stayed home for five years.
During those five years, my hard-working parents do their best to find a place for me to stay and go to school. Until my parents found a nice family from other village whose willing to look after me and go to school. My parents took me there and I started going to school.
In the Taingama village, we have a small market were we sell our produce goods. My mum usually sells garden food every day at the market. The coins that she earn from the garden food, she’ll budget it all for my school fee. She doesn’t buy herself a soap to wash, salt or oil for cooking. My heart breaks when I see my mum doing that.
During the Christmas holiday in 2017, I make up my mind and told my parents that I had to look for part time job somewhere. I left them, walked through dense forest until dark, and slept under big trees. I woke up the next morning and kept walking. I met some people on the road and walked with them. We came to a small village and slept with them. The next morning I walked with people I met on the road to a place where a large river flows. There we saw speed boats carrying people to other villages. From there, the people I came with got on a boat. I try to ride with them, but the skipper told me to get off the boat because there was no space left for others.
So I walked alone on the river bank and came across the garden. I was so hungry that I was looking for the garden owner but couldn’t find it. So I kept walking until I saw people packing betelnuts bags onto their boats. I was hungry and couldn’t stand it anymore, so I went and sat down. I asked one of them that sat next to me, where they were heading to? He told me they were heading to Port Moresby. I got on with them and we followed the river down to Malalawa. From there, we got on the PMV and came to Port Moresby.
It was the first time I came to Port Moresby and they left me at Gerehu. I got on the bus to Gordons, go down to Erima and sleep with some people. While staying with them, I looked for some part-time jobs. I asked around and they got me a job in the chain store at Erima. I work there and got K600 fortnightly. I was thinking of going back to the village but people I stayed with told me that they would be able to find a school for me here. So I stayed with them and they found my space at New Erima Primary school. I did my grade 5, 6, 7 and now I will be doing my grade 8 this year. I’m grateful that I came these far.