Posts Categorized: People

Rebuilding a life from the ashes

By Tevu Tenasi

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At around 9pm on Monday 6th August 2012 I took a call from my brother in-law, Mr Pency Kaevariri. He sounded shocked.

‘Mage eang tama taba teang komana iung ge?’ ‘Friend, do you have your belongings in your cottage?’ he asked in a shaky tone.

‘Ainge,a tabae a hata?’ Sure,Is there anything wrong? I replied, already knowing there was.

A iung teang pa asiu’ ‘Your house has been burnt down,’ he said.

I was left speechless with nothing to say as the sound of my in-law faded from my phone.

Our little cottage at Teairas in Tinputz was burnt to ashes.

I tortured myself trying to figure out what caused the fire and my wife hardly spoke as she thought about the everything that we worked for that was now nothing but ashes.

The next morning, I was informed that our house was mistakenly put on fire by a local crisis warlord and a report was made known to the police for investigation.

856-mill-timberWe waited and waited as the negotiations and investigation were taken care of by the police.

Days of waiting turned to months and with so much grief over our great loss, my wife and our two sons decided to move over to Kieta where she was from.

On Christmas Eve, 24 December 2012, we moved out of Kekesu Primary School where we were to Arawa. A sad Christmas was spent there and then we booked an open back LandCruiser that took us to what would become our new home Kurai, some 20 kilometres from Arawa town.

The thought of our loss was painful to bear, but we also carried with us the aspiration to build a home again.

This all came to pass as the first timbers of the new house was milled on 22nd of May 2013.

I also resume worked as a Nursing Officer in Roreinang Aid post while my wife resumed in Kurai Primary School.

856-carpentry-teamA few months later I was offered a position to work as an Officer-in-charge of Moanava Clinic a newly open site for HIV/AIDS voluntary counselling and testing in Arawa Health Centre.

Beyond all doubt God was taking care of us.

By January 2014, the building profile was already up by the hands of my brother in-law Mr Wayne Mah, an experienced and skilful carpenter, with the assistance of other locals.

Everybody, men, women and children, offered help even with simple activities like food preparation for our hardworking carpenters.

Things changed rapidly as months passed and by September we already had the house up.

There was a setback in 2015, when our family lost two members. One passed to illness and another was murdered in cold blood and in accordance with local custom we ceased most of our work.

Today everything is taking shape and is on track to be completed by 2017.

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The story of selfless Napio

By Pauline Karalus

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At the young age of 13, Napio was served the double blow when his father passed away and, in the family politicking that followed, he lost all the rights to the inheritance bequeathed to him.

Napio is the only boy in a family of five and grew up with his four sisters and mother.

Napio’s Dad was the first born in his family and so most of the family customary land was his.

He had several cocoa plantations where he would dry up to six bags a month. Despite the fact that he was a subsistence farmer, the family heavily relied on his earnings more than the mother’s, who taught at the local primary school.

He earned much and the villagers envied him, but he never rejected a request from people who wanted help from him. He would help anyone in cash or kind, comfort or prayer whenever they needed it.

Having such a wonderful supporting wife and five lovely kids was a blessing from the Lord. His sudden passing shattered the hearts of his wife and children into pieces. This was a sad beginning of a new chapter in life for the family.

Napio, being the only boy in the family, was traumatized at the loss of his role model even years after his dad’s death. He changed from being that smiling playful boy to that quiet boy who enjoys his own company, who loves not being involved in any conversation.

With growing concern, his mum tried everything to make him socialize with the other kids his age, but Napio only wanted to be alone, a decision his mum ultimately respected.

He was still a young boy and so he was unable to cultivate all the land his late father had left him. His family had to move to the place his mother’s people to help her emotional recovery and it was difficult to keep an eye on his inheritance.

As the years went by, Napio grew in to a kind and gentle man. He returned home to his land, which was now occupied by his uncles and wouldn’t hand it back to him. He tried every possible way to get the land back, but was unsuccessful in his efforts.

A bright student, Napio successfully completed grade 10 in year 2010 with his younger sister. His sister continued on to grade 11, but he went for short courses down at Moramora Technical College in West New Britain province.

Upon completion of his studies, he got a job there and helped his Mum to pay for his sister’s tuition fees. He worked for a while and then chose to return to Buin, to stay with his mother and helping her out at home he had to move back to Buin.

He now stays at home and manages his trade store and helps raise funds for his siblings’ fees.

Up to this day he still stays at his mum’s place and continues to cultivate what little land has left for him.

To Napio, land is not the most important thing, he feels complete with his family.

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Brave Wendy’s pineapple patch

By Pauline Karalus

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Gwendalyne Umake (or Wendy for short), having being the first born in a family of seven children, was obliged to stay home and help her mum take care of her younger siblings. She never had the chance to continue her education at the local primary school after she finished elementary.

Daily chores began in the morning with the sound of scraping coconut to prepare breakfast and lunch for her little ones and ended in the evening with the preparation of dinner for the whole family. She grew up as expected by the elders.

At the age of 18 she was handed in for marriage to a boy from another clan. Wendy was ready to face reality, but life didn’t turn out as expected.

She was often brutally physically abused by her cruel husband and it came to the breaking point where she finally decided she couldn’t carry on with the arranged marriage anymore and bravely took off to her parents.

Soon she eloped away with the boy she had fallen in love with during her teenage years. At her new home, she was happy confident that her new marriage would work out but she was worried about how she would support her family financially due to the fact that she has never been to school.

At this time Wendy questioned herself and whether she was good enough to become the mother she had always dreamt of being. Questions popped up in her head; questions she never had answers for.

She couldn’t go back to school again, for it was too late and she now had too many responsibilities. Her main focus had to be on providing the needs for her new and little, but soon to grow, family.

Wendy had so much love for gardening. She would plant new food crops she would get from relatives who themselves got them from places within the province they would travel to.

Her garden never ran out of vegetables and fruits. The love of gardening soon gave her insights on accomplishing things that had seemed impossible.

Eventually she decided to turn one of her husband’s oldest cocoa blocks into a pineapple block. She suggested the idea to her husband who got motivated in helping his loving wife do what she thought was best for her and their family as a whole.

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The following day her husband had to load pineapple suckers in a wheelbarrow and take them to the planting grounds. Wendy planted all the suckers and filled up the whole block with the help of her husband in only one week.

Cleaning, weeding and waiting for them to bear fruits the following year seemed to be a very short period of time as she was always busy with work to do. Her pigs to be fed, laundry to be done, new gardens to be made and more.

The Ples Meri now racks money from the pineapple plantation she made some years back. There is really not very good market for it back at Buin, however, she finds transport for her fruits to be taken to Buka and be sold.

When there isn’t any transport available, the ripe fruits are either thrown away to the pigs or her relatives from far come and gather as much as they like and go.

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A Tribute to Dearest Dad – Late Joe Maineke

By Eleanor Maineke

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Dad (Late Joe Maineke), Eleanor Maineke & Mom (Agnes Rita Maineke) during my graduation in 2014, 2 years ago at the Divine Word University, Madang Campus

The space that your death left can never be filled again. It’s like a gap that scares a person to take a further step but at the same time motivates and strengthens a person to take up the challenges and fill in the gaps of one’s own limit.

The month of April will be into its second week and the date that you left for eternity will finally fall on the 25th. I recall the 25th of April 2015 when I got the phone call about your death. It was exactly 7:45am, the youngest of us all, Mathew Sailik called me using Mom’s mobile phone. I was expecting to hear Mom’s voice as most Saturday’s was her call to check-up on me just to make sure that I’m in good health. This Saturday was different, the voice belonged to Sailik, the 16-year old youngest brother of mine and he talked very fast. “Mom, cannot talk so I am calling you to tell you that dad passed away. Please just be strong and find transport to go home. We have to help Mom. She is so broken-hearted. ” He quickly gave a snap of the cause of dad’s death and the mobile phone was engaged within the 3rd minute.

I started shaking and weeping in my room at Arawa, section 17. I didn’t know where to start this chapter of the story of my life. I felt as if a huge stone has been dropped into my heart and I couldn’t even get up and pick myself together. But the words of my brother, Sailik kept on ringing in my head to be strong and help Mom.

With tears rolling down my eyes, I called Junior Raphael Maineke, who was schooling at Koromira Technical High School. He is the 5th child of the late Joe Maineke. He was shocked and didn’t want to believe that reality has hit us suddenly and so hard. He didn’t respond to anything that I said, but listened.

With the help of the Bougainville Peace Building Program, the organisation that I am employed by, I fetched my brother from the school and we travelled home to Siwai with the program vehicle.

We arrived home when dad’s body was still at Buin, Turiboiru where he passed away. Mom and my youngest brother were awaiting the hand-over of dad’s body from the district administration as he was a public servant. Finally at around 5pm, the President of the autonomous region of Bougainville, Dr.Chief John Momis advised the District Education Officer, to act on behalf of the District Manager who was still on his way to Buin from Buka and handed dad’s body to Mom and my youngest brother. Right after the ceremony, the 2 hour trip to our hamlet was taken.

 Photo Caption:Daddy’s body arrived in a coffin on the 25th of April 2015 to our hamlet
Daddy’s body arrived in a coffin on the 25th of April 2015 to our hamlet

Our hamlet was decorated, lights were put up on the trees and the road leading into our hamlet from the main feeder highway was also decorated with flowers. Approximately about 6:50pm, we heard the siren from afar. That was the moment that we, his children couldn’t even think of anyone and anything but the burden of losing a dearest dad. The time that we hated to believe the reality that dad was coming home in a coffin. Wailing and crying started as we heard the siren and we ran to the main feeder road, to the entrance of our hamlet to meet dad. This time not as usual when he comes home with gifts to us, and in person.

Dad died at the age of 60. His death brought many people from all walks of life to us, his family. He was a person that many people cherish and looked up to.

We miss you every day dad but your death also strengthened us to be more independent in our decisions and to see and appreciate the legacy that you left behind. The passion to help other people.  The hole that you left behind is a challenge to us, dad.

A man of a thousand trades – left within a blink of an eye without a goodbye. And that is life’s own story that opened the next chapter in the Maineke’s.

I wrote this piece with tears but after completing I felt relieved.

 

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Siwai mechanic gives new life to old vehicles

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Most people are focused on purchasing new vehicles and private business houses in Buin, Arawa and Buka are running a race of purchasing brand new land cruisers, but one Siwai man has shown that older models can be more valuable with the right care.

Steven Kauma, from Siwai in South Bougainville, has a gift for fixing cars and has recently set up his own business in Kokopau.

Mr Kauma started fixing cars at home when he was a young boy. After completing his schooling he applied to Moramora Technical School in Rabaul in 2001. He successfully completed his studies and graduated as a motor mechanic

In 2002 he came back to Bougainville and started working with his cousin Samuel, the owner of the car workshop called Sawai Motors at Kokopau, and Kauma was able to apply and improve the skills learnt in Moramora Technical School.

In 2015, after many years working in the Sawai Motors workshop, he started his own workshop at Kokopau.

He erected a building at the far end of Kokopau town, collected all his tools in a storeroom and started working independently on cars and trucks.

As soon as the public knew about his workshop and his prices they came rushing through the door.

Mr Kauma then found another problem with the shortage of labour and his own high workload. So he chose 3 mechanics from different areas to help him out, one each from Tinputz, Wakunai and Siwai.

Starting from October 2015 the number of customers started to increase and Mr Kauma and his colleagues started to get busy fixing cars every day including the weekends.

“We fix six to eight cars each day,” said Mr Kauma.

“I have regular customers from Tinputz, Wakunai, Buin, Siwai and Nagovis.”

Yesterday Mr Kauma was at Tearoki working on a gearbox and as he worked another truck was brought to his workshop.

“The engine and the gearbox are the main parts of a car,” Mr Kauma continued while fitting a gearbox,” I always work on them slowly with care.”

Mr Kauma said that his workshop is cheaper than other workshops in Buka and that’s why most of the cars are brought to his workshop.

“Fitting in parts and inspection of the car is very expensive in Buka,” he said, “it costs more than K8,000.”

“The number of cars in Bougainville is increasing but the number of car workshops is limited.”

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Entrepreneurial student a creative spark

680-ishmael-palipalDuring his stint as a student at the Divine Word University in Madang Ishmael Palipal began to take photographs in his spare time.

This hobby escalated quickly and he began taking commissions for university events and other occasions around Madang town. Palipal’s photography tends to focus on Bougainvillean culture and the natural beauty of the region.

He also launched a collective of visual artists, PNG Graphics Logo Designers, who offer their creative services to individuals, businesses and organisations in Bougainville, Madang and throughout Papua New Guinea.

Not satisfied with still images, Palipal begun to expand his repertoire in to cinematography and video production. He has produced footage of cultural events at the Divine Word University and music videos, including one for the song Melanesian Girl by Jaykings (ft Leafy Bwoy).

Palipal returned permanently to Bougainville in late 2015, having completed his Bachelor degree in Social and Religious Studies at the Faculty of Arts and Social Science.

He currently works as a junior evaluation and monitoring officer for Care International.

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Ursola Rakova speaks out on the realities of climate change

Ursola Rakova, executive director of the Tulele Peisa, has called for action on global climate change as her native Carteret Islands are gradually reclaimed by the ocean.

Rakova, who hails from the Han islet, is the executive director of Tulele Peisa, a non-government organisation initiated by the Carterets Council of Elders to address ever-worsening challenges of global warming, including the need to resettle residents of the islands.

“The Pope’s message to the world, not just to us Catholics but to the world, emphasises the preservation of Mother Earth,” Ms Rakova told Rowena Orejana at the NZ Catholic newspaper.

“As custodians of Mother Earth, we all have a part to play in protecting this earth.

“If we look at people who will be displaced, these people should be at the centre of humanitarian support.”

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For over half a century there have been discussions about relocation, but in 2006 the people of the Carterets decided to take matters in their own hands by establishing Tulele Peisa, which translates from Halia as ‘sailing the waves on our own’.

“The Catholic Church of Bougainville recognised the situation back in 1963 and started to talk about relocating the people. This was reaffirmed in 2007,” Ms Rakova continued.

“We want to move people within the age group of 18 to 45. We feel that this is an active population and they will be able to sustain themselves on the sites given to us.”

In the 1980s there was an attempt to relocate people to Central Bougainville, but this was unsuccessful as the Carterets people could not settle in the area due to a lack of dialogue and support from the local people and the onset of the Bougainville Crisis.

In 2009 a relocation project began to move people from the atolls to land in Tinputz that had been owned by the Catholic Church of Bougainville.

“We are rehabilitating the plantations and giving each family one hectare of land to cultivate,” Rakova said.

“We also need to support people in keeping their identity; we are moving away, but not completely. We want to maintain cultural connectedness. We want to preserve that. We want to move with dignity. We are proud of our inheritance and we want to keep that.”

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‘Cocoa flush’ sees a good harvest for cash crop farmers in Buin

By Jennifer Nkui

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Buin District in South Bougainville has its good and bad years when it comes to cocoa farming. In the bad years the cocoa yield can be very low, unlike other parts of the region which have greater consistency.

2015 is counted as one of the good years by cocoa farmers in the district, because the quantity of cocoa harvested is much higher than in the previous years.

Since the beginning of this year the cocoa farmers have been busy cleaning their cocoa plantations, harvesting the ripe cocoa pods and drying the cocoa beans.

One such cocoa farmer is my big brother Nigel Nkui.

After graduating as an auto mechanic, he decided to settle back home and look after the cocoa plantations that were established by my late father.

602-cocoa-pod-buinHe told me when I visited him earlier this month that it is cocoa season in Buin and as a result the price of cocoa has increased to K400 per bag.

“Cocoa is hard work but it is good money when it is the cocoa season like now,” my brother told me.

During my short stay at home I was able to see firsthand the bags of dry cocoa beans being transported down to Kangu Wharf for export and also to make room for the new wave of cocoa bags that farmers were still bringing in to sell.

An amazing quantity of cocoa was produced every week and even though I grew up in Buin I have not seen anything like it before. It is also unusual to see cocoa growers selling their wet beans every week.

This was due to the rapid rate at which cocoa pods are being ripened for harvesting.

With this ‘cocoa flush’ (as it is called by my big brother) cocoa farmers like him are able to earn good money or enough money to look after their families, pay their children’s school fees and raise their standard of living.

“Cocoa is the only cash crop that we the village people in Buin can rely on for income and this cocoa flush this year has enabled us to make good money,” he added.

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Bougainville students at PAU elect new leader

596-fabian-epotaBy Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

The Bougainville students of Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby have appointed Fabian Epota as their new president for 2015.

Fabian is the son of William Epota one of the candidates who stood for the Torokina Constituency seat in the 2015 General Election. He had previously served as member for Torokina in the first Bougainville House of Representatives.

The Bougainvillean students at Pacific Aventist University appointed Fabian for the potential he has shown in leading the students at this institution.

Outgoing president, Ezekiel Masat, held hands with Epota to symbolise the handing over of the leadership.

Masat served as president of the student’s for one year and also hails from a political family, with his father, Ezekiel Masat Senior, elected as the representative of the Tonsu constituency in the 2015 general election.

Fabian Epota is a third year student taking Arts and Humanities; he is an outstanding person and the students trusted him to be their leader for this year.

“I am your leader, but that doesn’t mean I have all the power to do everything,” Mr Epota said.

“I am a leader because of you appointed me and I expect you to assist me in this role and correct me if I make mistakes along the way.”

Soon after Mr Epota was appointed the Bougainville Students’ Association of Pacific Adventist University held their first fundraising on the campus, which was a success and a good amount of money was raised.

Prior to the fundraising Mr Epota, as a new leader, organized transport for all the Bougainville students to go and vote at the electoral office in Waigani.

This action paints a picture of a creative leader who cares about the students as well as the community.

Students from each faculty commented on the Bougainville Students’ outstanding leader. In the eyes of most of the Bougainville students, Fabian will become an outstanding leader in the future.

“It is a challenge to become a leader, and next year I need co-operation from the students,” Mr Epota said.

“A majority of the students who are currently working side by side with me will be graduating at the end of this year and leadership in this age is a two way thing.

“You must face challenge and as a true leader, leading with your heart, you must never give up.”

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The man behind the Bougainville Bulletin

592-tommy-alasiaBy Leonard Fong Roka

With social, economic and political changes ever blustering across the region, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) strives to keep pace with the rhythm of society and its citizens.

In post-crisis Bougainville the ABG must to maintain and nurture a cordial relationship with its people in an effort to affect peace building, unity and development.

The government must also attain a pacified political conversation on the troubled island through information provision and dredging.

There are people who dedicate their lives to play the part of wheels driving the government’s strategies and policies of change through the various ABG mechanisms like the ABG Bureau of Media & Communications.

One such ABG officer is the Panguna man, Tommy Alasia, Communication Officer of ABG print media paper the Bougainville Bulletin.

Mr Alasia oversees the collection of news, the publication and distribution of the paper that is freely disseminated across the island.

Born in March of 1988, with the sparks of the Bougainville Crisis sprouting high, Tommy Alasia grew up in his single mother’s care and love around the many places of the Kieta District and the Solomon Islands, where his mother travelled in response to the decade long civil conflict and PNG blockade of the island through the 1990s.

In 1992 Tommy Alasia was swept across the PNG-Solomon border for medication in Honiara and then, his health restored from paralysis, he began his primary schooling in Honiara.

With the peace process gaining momentum in Bougainville his mother brought him home in 1998 and in 1999 he began Grade 4 at school in Arawa.

He made his way through the education system until he entered the University of Papua New Guinea in 2009 and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor Degree in Arts & Communications.

Soon after, seeing all the riches the PNG LNG project could offer, the young Bougainvillean was swept into the highlands of PNG in 2013 where he served the LNG project’s Community Affairs Department overseeing the stakeholder engagement office.

But home-sweet-home, Bougainville, was at the heart of this crisis child.

“For me there was no satisfaction of serving in these strange places, Bougainville was always calling somewhere in my heart for me to come home,” Mr Alasia said.

“This is something about most of us Bougainvilleans who had grown up during the 10-year civil conflict; we turn to think more about our beloved trouble torn island; there is satisfaction serving here.”

With that desire burning inside, he resigned in March 2014 from the PNG LNG Project and left for Bougainville and by August he entered his current ABG position running the Bougainville Bulletin news project.

“The Bougainville Bulletin was older than me,” he revealed, “it was in existence before, but under other names.”

“Such a medium was present as ABG was eager to bridge the information gap within Bougainville, where we see that our entire population seemed uninformed or unaware of what the government does and vice versa.

“I feel that such an issue of information gap is being filled in by Bougainville Bulletin.”

According to Alasia, the ABG made all attempts to promote the paper and it was not until third edition that his team spotted public acceptance.

“All editions had 20 thousand copies each,” he said, “so my team—including myself as the leader—toured Bougainville distributing the newspaper in about 12 days.”

“The west coast of Bougainville was missed in the early editions, but the third edition was the icebreaker into the area.

“I toured with about 800 copies of this ABG newspaper for Kunua, Kereaka, Torokina and Koiare and all the hinterland areas of those places.”

The people of Torokina were delighted when they received copies of the Bougainville Bulletin.
The people of Torokina were delighted when they received copies of the Bougainville Bulletin.

To Mr Alasia his distribution tours are actually bringing the ABG to the people who have long been neglected; with this free ABG newspaper, the government is visiting the people and creating its licence to operate in their midst.

“People we meet and hand them the newspaper are too proud to see one such newspaper,” Alasia said.

“Most of our people along the west coast had hardly seen a newspaper.

“They get so excited and had told us that they would be reading them all round till we bring them the next edition.”

But the ABG is not only paving its way into the hearts and minds of Bougainvilleans n the 43 Council of Elders (CoE)and the over 300 Village Assemblies (VA) they are touring, for the Bougainville Bulletin leader, Mr. Tommy Alasia, is crossing the Bougainville-Solomon border also with his papers.

Tommy Alasia is focused and determined that the ABG’s Bougainville Bulletin that features Bougainville general news, ABG updates, even major issues like the 2015 Bougainville General Election, issues on community and culture, various ABG departmental updates, various Bougainvillean districts updates and Bougainville sports be brought right throughout Bougainville and the areas that the issues affect.

Thus the fourth edition of the ABG newspaper, besides being made available online as a PDF edition, has reached out into the Bougainville’s sister islands of Shortland in the Solomon Islands.

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