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Walking & living an empty life after burying my Dollorose

Leonard and DolloroseLEONARD FONG ROKA | Bougainville 24

I buried my daughter on the 18 September 2015 at her mother’s Nakorei Village in Buin after she passed away on the 17 September 2015 at Buin District Hospital.

And with sorrow and tears of emptiness I am travelling and struggling to refill my heart.

My daughter Dollorose Fong Roka was born on the 18 June 2014 while I was on semester break on Karkar Island while attending Divine Word University in Madang.

I met her mother, my partner Delphine Piruke, while she was at Madang Teachers College and she was pregnant in late 2013. For me this moment was a new life to move on with. Deep in my heart I was excited; I was dreaming about a fine baby to cuddle and laugh with.

Like all expectant and excited parents, we often argued over the phone over the sex of our child. ‘I want a boy,’ I would say. But Delphine, who was teaching her first year of teaching at Nakorei Primary School, would confidently conclude, ‘She is a girl.’

But then I was not so concerned with the sex and name debate for all I was engrossed in was that I was a father; a father from Panguna to a child with a mother from Buin. Then she was born at Piano Health Centre in Buin and my heart was all joy for I now had something to be proud and work for—a child.

I was now a father but since late 2013 I was engaged by Delphine’s relatives in conflict for I was not their choice for her marriage.

In October 2014 after the closure of the academic year at Divine Word University I left with joy for Bougainville to see and hold my daughter. But could not march onto Buin for I was not that welcomed in their midst.

More on, upon arriving in Buka I was immediately contracted by the ABG in the Office of the Chief Secretary of ABG thus I was now locked in Buka.

So my daughter—by then 5 months old—made her maiden travel to Buka to see me in December 2014 after her mother’s school made their closing of the academic year.

At Kokopau Town in Buka I searched the crowded car park for a few minutes before my eyes settled on her. She was so humble and shy as I laid my hands on her and took her from her mother. She did not hesitate for we were connected by love in spirit.

Her facial features was me; the colour of her skin was me; if not me, she was my reincarnation. She was with me all through the 2014-2015 festive season in Buka Town where I began my bed time culture of watching her sleep to soothe myself to sleep in the middle of the night.

It was this break that she showed me she had a medical problem of vomiting without any noticeable illness as far as the Bougainville health standards could tell. All they told us at Buka District Hospital, was that she had no problem and we walked home happily regularly.

When the Christmas break was over I proudly watch her leave for Kanauro Primary School in Buin at Kokopau Town where her mother was posted to teach in 2015. It was a nightmare to me. Thus, after two weeks of chatting with her prattles over the phone, I was in Buin.

Since then for one weekend every fortnight, the sun saw me in Buin’s Kanauro Primary School with my daughter every morning. We grew so close to each other that she only went to her mother for breast feeding and sleep.

My leaving for Buka on Mondays for work also began a heartbreak for my daughter. She would cry repeatedly uttering ‘papa, papa’ to her mother’s discomfort pointing her little fingers at the direction I may have left. They would call me on the phone and she then becomes overjoyed and blathers endlessly though slowly building her vocabulary.

This made me suffer thus I also began to abuse my official commitment to ABG by spending much time in Buin with my baby. Thus when my contract with the ABG ended on the 30 June 2015 I was eager to go home but the newest referendum office then under Chris Siriosi held me back.

But in mid-July 2015 ABG’s in-house politicking made me to depart once and for all to be with my daughter and my partner and taste for myself what parenting is all about.

There I watched as her vomiting became regular. We brought her to Piano Health Centre or Buin District Hospital and all we got was a single dose of anti-vomiting drugs because, according to the health workers, she had no serious illness that should be the primary cause of the vomiting and that could be life threatening.

The burial of DolloroseThen on the 12 September 2015 I left her at Kanauro Primary School and I set off for Panguna, while she was crying bitterly in the midst of her mother’s angry ranting and refusal to join us in Panguna. I was picked up by my family for a family reconciliation before the retrieval of my father’s remains from Siae Village in the North Nasioi area where he was killed and buried by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army in 1993.

She spent the weekend happily, but began her vomiting again on the 15 September 2015. They rushed her to the Buin District Hospital and back after medication. Then in the middle of the night of 16 September she went worst with vomiting; they took her back and overnighted in hospital into the 17 September.

Finally she had her last breathe at 2 PM on the 17 September while lying down peacefully on her sick bed in the Buin District Hospital as if she was going to sleep with a dose of drip attached to a hand after having her favourite ice cream at a nearby store.


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Mathias Kin

I am so sorry bro Leonard. Such a young innocent life.

Then I question again the health systems and facilities we have; the clinic continuously claimed the little one was not sick and did not pay any more attention then they ought to.

It is good that you wrote of this because there are so many cases like this all over this country that are not reported but accept the fate and the relatives take their loved ones home for burial. The dilapidating health facilities in Bougainville and PNG needs more attention from the policy makers.

The people in the upper bracket in our society simply take their sick to the best hospitals in the country and even over seas. This view that the country already has many classes of people is becoming evident every day.

Sometimes they blame it on sorcery which leads to other social undesirables in our society.

Sorry tru bro. Sometimes you can get strength through your writings which you are good at. You just wrote a really nice and moving piece for your Dollorose.


Phil Fitzpatrick

I've been away beyond internet access Leonard and have only just turned on my computer.

I don't really know what to say - I've got a lump in my throat.

Michael's lovely poem sums up my feelings.

Somehow it feels like something that has happened in my own family. Or perhaps in our Crocodile Prize family.

So sad.

Gelab Piak

Dear Brother,
It is I, Gelab Piak. Reading your story of your daughter brought tears to my eyes. My wife just gave birth to our first child, a girl during the Independence celebrations.... I related to me, if I was in your shoes and I was moved. Writing is our hope, and our 'friend'. But I know its hard, because being a father for the first time is a joy, but it is sad when that joy is taken away from you, and so early. My brother, with brotherly love, I encourage you to be strong and keep writing as a way of finding inner peace. Jesus is the answer and Prince of peace. May God bless you and your wife. May the love of God strengthen, build and restore both of you, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Amen.

Bessielah David

Leonard, am so sorry for your loss. One can never fill the void of missing a beloved child.

Although we can never understand why it had to be our innocent fragile children, we can only hope and try our best to live on with them in our hearts and farther along the journey of life, we will understand why when the Lord comes.

I lost my li'l niece at one week old who was my namesake. Although my circumstances are different to yours, I can understand the heartbreak.

May Dollorose rest in peace and may God be with you and Delphine as you journey on. Be encouraged that you will one day meet her again when the Lord comes from Heaven.

Dominica Are

So sorry for your loss Leonard.
Dollorose is an Angel up in Heaven now.

Lapieh Landu

As a new mother, I can only image a pinch of the pain.
My deepest condolences my friend.

God giveth and thus he taketh. We can only wonder why.
May you find peace and strength in his calling for her beautiful soul.

God Bless you and your family as she returns to her maker.

Fidelis Sukina

A heartfelt and touching story of a father's love for his daughter and such a special bond. Too soon she left.

Daniel Ipan Kumbon

It saddens me more to know that while you mourned the loss of a loved one some of us were travelling to Kundiawa for the Crocodile presentations which you are so familiar with.

I share in your sorrow. May the good Lord comfort you and Delpine.

And may Dollorose rest in etrnal peace.

Martinez Wasuak

A well expressed piece. Mr Roka, I was really saddened for your loss.

God has gave it and He took it back. Be strong in the Lord and pray He will give you another priceless gift that you can cherish as you grow older with him/her.

Life is never smooth, we sometimes may question it but accept every challenging situation as it comes and I'm certain it will make you more and more strong.

Chris Overland

I am truly sorry for Leonard and Delphine. No-one should have to bury their own child. My heartfelt condolences go to them both.

Michael Dom

A rondeau for Dollorose Fong Roka

No words, my friend, bring back the dead
No thoughts conveyed, nor tears we shed
Take back the loss nor ease the pain
We sit in silence and hear the rain
Not words, my friend.

What mute verse can I send instead
When consoling words are in vain
Not thoughts, not tears, God sends us rain.
His words, my friend.

In life we struggle to our end
Joy, grief and peace come hand-in-hand
Seek hope – do not avoid sweet pain
For this wisdom comes, like the rain;
God’s love, my friend.

`Robin Lillicrapp

Beautifully written, Leonard. A fitting homily to that little life that became such a defining influence in your experience.

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