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A story demanding to be told: Meet Amos Nepehi


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EVERYONE has a story, and stories tend to be connected through an intricate web of linkages. Our world is a stage full of stories.

But some stories are never told; they remain in the background or are lost down the passage of time. I sometimes wonder that, if there are no stories, there will be no histories, no legacies and maybe no future.  

Some stories demand to be told. Amos Nepehi’s is one of them.

Amos caught my eyes some years back when I started teaching at the University of Papua New Guinea.

He was originally from Kawaina in the Aiyura area of Kainantu District of the Eastern Highlands Province, but he calls Port Moresby his home now.

He is in his early sixties and has a wife and five children. He lives in Morata – a settlement suburb of Port Moresby. His first-born daughter is married while his last-born son attends the Buk Bilong Pikinini school on the UPNG Waigani campus.

Amos came to Port Moresby in 1971 when he was young and worked with the Police Department as a cleaner. He did not attend school and had no formal education but surprisingly he was able to spell his name. I assumed he just learnt how to do it.

He now works with UPNG as a cleaner, starting this job in 2001. He is a gentleman. He never rushes or grumbles while doing his job; he has a certain dignity about him that you do not find in many menial workers.

He also takes pride in his work. This is most evident in its quality. The UPNG Forum Square and canteen area where he works are always clean.

You may say he is not in my league, but we both labour for the University and are workmates.

Amos is always meticulous in doing his job. He is not overbearing or ‘in your face’ when cleaning the tables.

If you greet him, he returns it. If you smile, he smiles back. And if you simply pass by, and let him be, he just goes about his job.

Amos will accept a drink or a few bucks thrown his way if people do it of their own volition. He has no desire for handouts. Why would someone who has so much pride in his work expect favours?

His behaviour often reminds me of government officers and managers responsible for processing payments for legitimate work done by others. They charge a fee or will demand 10% before they do what they are paid to do. This is not Amos.

Double-dipping is one of the worst forms of corruption. Many people in the provinces and the rural areas know this as “the 10% language.”

Amos confided in me he likes his job not just for the benefit of a salary, but also because he is contributing something to the running of the University.

Perhaps not many people will agree with me that Amos is a role model. Cleaners have no higher education. They live mainly in the settlements in makeshift accommodation. They do not command high salaries.

But Amos is among those people in this country, and in this world, who aspire to give of their best whatever they do.

A job can bring with it certain status or prestige. Some people get their identity and self-worth from the jobs they hold. They can do it to the extent that they lose themselves and their individuality.

In Papua New Guinea, people’s social standings appears to be bolstered by the type of job they have. Often a job is considered more important than others. Law, business, accounting, medicine or science are considered more prestigious than arts or humanities. This is a growing trend in PNG. A cleaning job is on the bottom rung.

But we should admire all jobs that have a role to contribute to the progress of the country. They’re all important.

As a lecturer and one of very few people researching, writing about and promoting the concept of career development and employment enhancement, I would say that Amos Nepehi has a lot to teach others.

These include the highly paid with 100 times more privileges and perks, who work in better conditions and are paid all manner of allowances and take overseas trips under the umbrella of their job.

I hope Amos can be made permanent by the University - he is still a temporary member of staff - so he too can receive superannuation and attract other benefits that permanent employees are entitled to.

The day this happens will be a fitting reward for a person who has an incredibly positive attitude towards his work.


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Robert Taie

John, during my tenure at UPNG, I have observed Amos to be the most committed worker on the University staffing. You will usually find Amos quietly engrossed in whatever he is doing. He himself is clean and neat and therefore the place he looks after speaks volume. Thank you my brother for bringing his story out to the public domain. At least whoever reads your study and pays a visit to UPNG forum area will definitely come across Amos.

John K Kamasua

Thank you bro Tiri for that unique perspective!

Tiri Kuimbakul

Brother John, thank you for writing this story.

We certainly have a situation in PNG where the least expected are doing their bit to build the country up, while those most expected to build it up are tearing it down.

If only our highly educated people did their jobs with the level of commitment and dedication becoming of their training and experience, PNG would certainly be a different country now, and it's future would be bright.

Sadly, this has not been the case. The elites have become the Number One impediment to national progress. And with the way the country is going, there isn't much to be optimistic about.

The economy might pick up, but as long as we have people with wrong attitudes in charge of making decisions and allocating resources, we will continue to squander our opportunities for advancement.

We may end up being a resource-rich poor less developed country to the international embarrassment of everyone that has had the privilege of running it since independence.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Some of that may be disguised as "allowances," Arthur, which can still amount to double-dipping.

I am aware that these public officers will refuse to work until their allowances are guaranteed or, in some instances, paid upfront.

And thank you yalkuna Makias, waiwo!

Mathias Kin

Amos's story is a truly inspiring one. Thank you bro John.

Arthur Williams

Double dipping. Always wondered why police, teachers and other public officers get paid for conducting elections.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Thank you Namarola for telling us of another side of Amos's story.
Well done!

John Kaupa Kamasua

Specific thanks to Michael, Dominica, and Evelyn for drawing something positive out of Amos' story.

And thank you for confirming what I saw in Amos.

I have received some positive comments also from my former students of UPNG who remember Amos.

I am going over now to check him and will toss over his story with a can of coke.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Thank you all for reading and commenting with certain perspectives on Amos's story.

I would like to share with you some feedback from others. Please read them here.....


Around my time, this was a face you will not fail to see every day. While students and the general public go about their business in the forum square at the University of Papua New Guinea, this humble soul goes about his duties silently. Some of you may remember him from your time there. Read about him here @ . as told by Mr John Kamasua, Head of the Social Work Dept at the University of Papua New Guinea.

Hope it inspires you, as it had me, to serve better-whatever your profession may be.



I know Amos as we live in the same area we have called home for years now. I take my hats off for him. With John’s story, I conclude that Amos is one of the most happiest man alive on earth today.

We on the other hand, knowingly stress ourselves to attain happiness by any means possible yet it turns sour the next minute or at least we pretend that it hasn’t.

Amos story did inspire me and has change my perspective of trying to gain the whole world brings satisfaction notion (not minding the losing myself part) to, to be content and take a day at a time as everyday has blessings that we don’t’ see because our focus are on self-satisfaction (greed). I can somehow imagine Amos’s happiness as one far exceeds mine because of who he simply is.

I didn’t know Amos then until now.

Thank Eva for sharing his story.

I’ll sure share Amos story and hopefully give him a well deserving handshake when I do meet him.


Namarola Lote

The face looked familiar so I took it home and share it with my wife. She confirmed the face and the name.

Amos is one of the pioneer SDA member of Morata community. They started off at Morata 2 and then built Morata 1 church as the church membership at Morata 2 expanded.

Currently he is a Deacon at Morata 2 SDA church.

Some of the elites of Morata now are those that took his advice and never partake in criminal activities.

Thank you John for sharing this inspiring story of a man with a big heart. Surely God will reward him accordingly.

Michael Dom

I respect your view Dominica. Lately though, I have looked at things a little differently.

It's likely that the world is kept from getting any worse than it already is precisely because of the fact that there are people like Amos living in it.

The other sentient, bi-pedal lifeforms merely occupy space and use precious oxygen - they are allowed into humanity on very tentative grounds.

We're pushing earth to its limit in PNG too - greed has no political boundary. The effect of greedy public servants, government officials, politicians, business people and all and sundry has its eventual impact at the global level.

Globalisation is just a convenient new term that political economists made up to describe a natural phenomenon. Hello? The whole wide world of sports is connected!

At some point, though, humanity may come up against a physical limitation unique to Earth, since carbon can neither be created nor destroyed.

Hopefully we haven't combusted ourselves by then or, in some post-apocalyptic phase, reverted to cannibalism.

It may well be that God acts through people like Amos, eh laka.

In that case then the rest of us should be very grateful that Amos-kind is a real blessing to us all.

Evelyn Denu

I remember him. And yes he is very committed. The last four years I was studying at UPNG I made friends with some of these cleaner men and women, they are such beautiful souls.

They remind me of my own grandma. My grandmother was a cleaner back in the late 80's at the university, when her payday came she would carry me to the stores and spoil me with all the goodies I laid hands on.

Despite the salary, she gave her heart to the job. I can proudly say today that I am a product of one of those hard working men and women.

Dominica Are

How Inspiring! A very good lesson for us all.

I guess if there's a lot of Amos's out there, our world would be a better place to live.

People who have a passion for what they do, downhearted and are grateful for what little they have.

God bless Amos.

Michael Dom

John Kamasua, you have done a great thing to write this story.

There are people like Amos Nepehi out there - good, decent, simple folk who have real soul.

Look carefully enough and you will find them. They arrive unannounced, get the job done without fuss and depart without adventure.

As for the '10 per-center's', these are sad excuses for human beings, a waste of space really.

I just feel sorry for them when I think that they have to live with themselves and the failings of an empty and worthless soul - what a curse!

I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

John Kaupa Kamasua

Thank you Bernadette, Konetero, and Robin for reading Amos' story.
And yes Robin, I will definitely let Amos know that others have read his story on this blog.

Bernadette Fehi

God gets the glory for Amos's heart. You do not find that every time someone sees he or she is contributing towards something and not just because of money.

If only we have many more "Amos's" around; then this nation will be fine.

I have learnt that if you love what you do, you will not worry about money.

Thank you for writing this story about Amos - 'the story demanding to be told' indeed. Amos, one of the great models for this nation - having a degree or not does not matter.

Konetero Ron

Wonderful story John. Amos contributes to the country's development. I wish 10 percenters read this.

Robin Lillicrapp

Great expose, John. Do tell Amos I applaud and respect his contribution and testimony from afar.

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