PORT MORESBY - It is almost a year now since I started the campaign to promote writing and publishing in Papua New Guinea - also advocating the need to write our own stories as Papua New Guineans.
As I reflect on this journey so far, my memory settles particularly on the preparations leading to a trip I took to Oro Province in late October last year.
As a mother of two sons, Zechariah aged three and Nehemiah, two, nurturing my sons to become responsible citizens is important for me.
As a writer and advocate, ensuring my children become what I envision every young Papua New Guinean becoming is my utmost goal.
Hence, on several occasions I had to bring my sons with me to writers’ meetings and, for my trip to Oro, I decided to bring Nehemiah as well as my 18-year-old niece.
Such decisions come with many consequences and I had to thoroughly plan the trip.
But what I was more concerned about was the way people would view what I’d done if something went wrong.
Two months before travelling, I made arrangements with my older sister, Barbara, to travel all the way from Musa to Popondetta so she could babysit Nehemiah at home while I visited schools.
Fortunately she agreed but I felt guilty that I was taking her away from her children and that she would have to walk between Musa and Popondetta.
On the other hand, she was excited because it had been over four years since we last saw each other and this was the first time she would see Nehemiah.
Babysitter sorted, I now had to look for accommodation. Finding a decent place to stay was difficult because my budget was tight. So I had to figure out a less expensive option.
I contacted my dad’s younger brother who happens to live in one of Oro’s notorious settlements, SBS.
He was happy to accommodate me but warned me the place wasn’t so decent. But I expressed how grateful I was because I was bringing along my baby and wanted to at least be amongst family.
As my departure day got closer, I had to work out transportation from place to place.
This was something I knew I’d struggle with and, given my limited knowledge about Popondetta, I prepared for the worst.
Fortunately, I was introduced to Elijah Sagigari, who had not known was a distant relative.
Mr Sarigari was an educationist and after retiring was involved in a lot of community work and other church-run programs driven by the Anglican church.
After learning we were related, he agreed to provide transport for me in his old rusty 10-seater donated to him some years ago.
You never know real life super heroes exist until you meet someone like Mr. Sarigari.
A week before my travel, I had not heard from my sister Barbara and was getting worried.
My mother was not helping by also worrying about Nehemiah travelling with me. I kept telling her everything would be all right.
Little did I know that Barbara, while walking to Popondetta from her village, had one of her feet pricked by a poisonous wild yam spike. She could no longer walk and had to spend a week in a village named Embesa to give her swollen foot time to heal.
Given that there was no telephone contact out there in Musa, I had to await a message from Popondetta. Two days before our flight from Port Moresby it arrived. Barbara had competed her journey.
I was now set to travel. Bags packed and everyone notified, we got to the airport to find there was an issue with the flight.
After checking in, we were asked to wait around for the boarding call. It was a late afternoon flight and if it was cancelled it would have an impact on my tight three-day program. Also my sister, husband and daughter were waiting for us at Girua airport in Popondetta and were constantly checking whether we were on the way.
Girua airport is a 30–45-minute drive from Popondetta and there aren’t many PMV trucks around late in the day. I took a deep sigh of relief when the boarding call finally came.
I believe there are many ordinary Papua New Guineans just like me who thrive on the passion inside us to make a difference in a small way.
The fact that our programs are not fully funded or there is lack of support from the government does not hinder us from achieving our goals.
For people like me, having one child develop the same passion I have for writing is all the benefit I desire.
Thank God that as Papua New Guineans we are individuals with strong bonds to our families. As long as I have an uncle, an aunt, a cousin, sister, brother or grandfather living at a travel destination, their homes are open to me.
My challenge to other Papua New Guineans is to make use of whatever resources you have to make a difference where you are.
In a typical Papua New Guinean setting, when one person is employed they end up providing for the entire family. Often they themselves do not have time to achieve their goals.
But regardless of the situation you may be in, find a reason to make progress.
If time is what you have, give it. If knowledge is what you have, apply it. If a vehicle, house, computer, clothing or food is what you have, utilise it.
Most of us think that financial support is what we need to create an impact, but to receive this support, first we need to stand up and start small somewhere.