PORT MORESBY - This picture, circulated on Facebook recently, drew my attention compelled me to tell you of my experiences. Because if I can make it, you can too.
To all Papua New Guinean children, let me tell you my story. My own children know my story very well and know the reason why I am very strict with them so they understand they will need to work to earn a living and that nothing in life is given to them for free.
I am happy to say they are working as labourers during school holidays to pay for their upkeep and assist with school fees, just like I assisted my parents pay my school fees and pocket money when I was growing up.
I was a rural and simple missionary child, and my family had very little money. I had to dig deep to help out my mother and father.
I clearly remember that in 1981, when I was doing Grade 4 at Omaura beyond the mountains of Kainantu, I assisted my mother sell her baked bread in the market plus, and I occasionally panned for gold. I was 10 years old then.
When we moved to Minj in Jiwaka Province, I picked coffee after school for extra bucks (50 toea a bucket).
I also assisted my mother at her roadside market and on Sundays I would caddy at the then Minj golf club for 20 toea a golfer I assisted. I was 11 and 12 years old then.
I went to boarding high school and during term holidays I worked on school farms for 25 toea an hour six to eight weeks during the school holidays. I was 14 and 15 years old at the time.
Through my upper high school and university days, I looked for part time labouring opportunities.
For instance, in 1991 student strikes led to class suspensions so I worked part-time with my first formal work boss, Joshua Bakirie. He paid me K75 a fortnight as a real estate agent.
As I look back, working and earning a living is the reason why some of us are where we are today. Kids who have an easy life playing and depending on their parents’ success will often fail in adult life.
The photo accompanying this article shows a boy working and other children playing. Wow, what a contrast!
I want to encourage all children reading this to discipline yourself, assist your parents, look for opportunities for work and education and grow an attitude of hard work and perseverance. Then you too can make it.
One thing I learnt along the way is that hard work and education pay, nothing else matters.
You can have talent but if don’t have a good work attitude, you will not progress much in life.
As a government, we are focusing on second change education through flexible open and distance education (FODE) for those who have dropped off.
The government is also paying for higher education, we are supporting small business, we are offering price support for coffee, cocoa, copra, rubber, oil palm and other agricultural products.
We also providing freight subsidies for produce to be transported from markets.
And so I say, opportunities are abound in our country and only the lazy will not progress through life.
To all my children across our beautiful and blessed country, have hope and faith that you too can make it in life and make use of your time and talents by working hard wherever God has placed you in our diverse and blessed land of PNG.
For those who are struggling, I say that God created you for a purpose, and the right attitude will get you there.