10 things university students should know before graduation


1. Do not expect nor ask for a big salary when you get your first job. Instead, learn as much as you can with whatever opportunity you are given.

2. Be willing to learn skills outside your field  of academic study.  It is education you will not   get in a classroom.

3. A university is an incubation space designed to learn.  Spend 90 percent of your time learning as much as you can.

4. Development of character and spirit  is as important as study.  Time should be invested in  it as well.

5. Add value to your degree by engaging with your future employers  and the community.  It is another aspect of education you will not get in a classroom.

6. Your academic certificate is NOT a passport to a job. It is an opportunity.

7. Your academic certificate is simply proof that you have done what the system demanded and achieved standards set by the powers that be.

8. Your talents and your academic attainments are two different things.  An academic certificate is not a representation of your talents and abilities.

9. Have a mission you want to achieve. If not,  your journey will be without a purpose.

10. Potential employers will check your Facebook account.  Traces of your character not found on your character reference will be found on Facebook.

Unleashing the power of community journalism in Papua New Guinea

pic-1Community Journalism sounds like a new concept but its not. Since the arrival of mobile phones and social media, communities have become more actively involved in generating and disseminating information to wider audiences.

With better mobile phone technology,   coverage and faster internet speeds, communities who previously sent our text messages moved up the technological scale to disseminating images on Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media sites.

While people in other countries call it citizen journalism, I would like to call it “community journalism” because much of the information and images from Papua New Guinea communities are released publicly after some consultation with members of the community.

It is a collective decision based largely on the intention to expose and highlight issues that affect them and to seek assistance from those who can provide that much needed assistance. Some analysis of existing information and experiences from other sources comes into play during discussions before the text and images and sometimes videos are released.

Mainstream media in the 21st century, has dropped back a few paces in terms of getting out the information. There are valid and serious concerns about verification, credibility and balance which many news organizations are still having to contend with.

However, what must be realized is that    members of rural communities who pass on the information are, in fact, authorities on the ground with first hand information. Verification for many in the mainstream, means verification from an “official source” detached from the reality on the ground. In many instances,   verification is delayed as an ongoing stream of important content floods social media sites from various sources on the ground.

Community journalism is important for a disaster prone country like Papua New Guinea. It provides an important link between communities affected by natural disasters and government authorities in administrative centers.

What we have in Papua New Guinea is a hybrid system of the kind of crowd sourcing that happens in larger developed economies of the world.   There are clusters of urban communities connected to their families in village communities.

Crowd sourcing news and information works   with urban and semi-urban communities online or urban based residents who are mobile.   For rural communities, crowd sourcing is several years behind what we see in larger economies.

The challenge is to develop community journalist  clusters that include teachers, local level government officers and tech savvy secondary school students to make then understand the power of community journalism and its impact on society.

How a missionary kid became a bush pilot with #MAF

Captain Thomas Keindip interviewed about a fuel shortage

As a youngster growing up in the Lutheran Mission headquarters in Ampo in Lae, Thomas Kimbun Keindip, saw the struggles of his father, Kimbun Keindip who served for many years as a missionary.

At the end of every year, Thomas and his siblings were taken home to Komba in the Kabwum District of Morobe Province on small planes that provided the service essential   for the missionaries and other workers who served in those areas.

“The interest obviously grew from there and you want to explore and you think about wanting to do that,” he says. “This was one of three things I set out to achieve earlier on… and I achieved it.

“I always wanted to fly for the bush people and I’ve always been doing that ever since.”

After leaving the University of Technology, Thomas enrolled at the Missionary Aviation (MAF) Flight School in Mt. Hagen and never looked back since then.   As the son of a missionary family, his choice of airline came as no surprise. Thomas Keindip began flying with MAF in 2001 and spent close to six years flying into some of the most difficult landing strips near the Sandaun Province.

“Tekin, Oksapmin… Telefomin are one of a kind places in the world where it is very rugged.

“On a good day, flight time can be up to 15 minutes to 20 minutes. On a bad day, you can take up to 35 minutes for the same spot because you have to trek around the top.”

Keindip makes no secret of the fact that quality of training he received from flight instructors at the Mt. Hagen MAF flight school has served him well over the last 16 years. Sitting in the small hanger office he says, MAF maintains some of the highest standards in the world and that it was a privilege to have worked with the company.

In 2008, Keindip joined the North Coast Aviation (NCA), the only third level airline in Lae that services up to 60 airstrips in   Morobe, Eastern Highlands, Gulf and Oro province. He is one of few Papua New Guinean pilots flying into rural areas.

“Over the years, I’ve had offers from various companies which I’ve turned down,” he says.   “I felt I had a purpose with bush aviation. I have found a purpose.”

Compared to other airlines, NCA is quite small and a survivor battling high fuel costs and unfriendly economic environments while continuing to provide an important service to people in rural areas.

As chief pilot, Thomas Keindip, has seen a lot. He has ferried severe burn victims, women with pregnancy complications and has saved   countless lives just by doing his job with distinction.   But when asked about it,   he brushes aside the somewhat heroic, lifesaving aspect of his job that many people thank him for. He says he is rewarded by some of the simplest things in life.

“Most of the time, I get a real joy of satisfaction just to see passengers being dropped off in the villages and seeing their relatives come and hug them because they haven’t seen them for a while.

“That makes me see that it is really worth the effort I put in.”

“Or seeing the teachers being brought into a new area and being welcomes by the people. It gives me joy to see that at least we are doing something for our country.

“This is what I get from this job and I am passionate about it.”


Sensei Luke Goa, still a soldier and fighter at 66

goa-1Those who have studied at the University of Technology in Lae will know Luke Goa, as the guy who manages the NCS catering services at the university.  Luke Goa does the all important job of keeping more than 2000 students and staff at the university fed throughout the academic year.

It is a tough job that takes up much of his time with every task carried out with precision and without much of a hitch.   The precision and discipline comes from his background in the Australian Army in the former colony.

In pre-independence 1967, 16-year-old Luke Goa, left his home in Bougainville after being accepted to join the Northern Command of the Australian Army in what was then the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea.

“When I used to watch war films back then, I was very interested in the army… Not so much the navy. I wanted to go into the bush…”

The 1960s were a turbulent period for western powers. The US was fighting a war in Vietnam with Australian soldiers also engaged in the conflict.

Goa was in grade 9 when he traveled to Port Moresby’s Goldie River training depot to begin six months   of infantry training conducted by Australian Army veterans.

“Army training was tough. We had instructors who had served in the Second World War, the Korean War and some from Vietnam.”

After basic training, Goa was assigned to what was then called the Royal Ordinance Corps. This was the Australian Army branch   tasked with the supply of munitions and explosives. Over the short period, he developed a strong interest in explosives. In 1973, he was then selected for a specialist course in Victoria, Australia. Graduating in 1974, Goa became the only local soldier trained as an ammunitions technician.

“There weren’t many of us doing specialist jobs back then,” he says. “It was just me and a few Australian soldiers.

“We travelled all over the territory…. Igam barracks, Moem in Wewak, the naval establishment in Manus…. Our man task was to make sure that all the explosives and munitions were safe for the army to use.”

After leaving school at ninth grade, twelve years in the  army not only taught him the skills for war, it also gave him   the equivalent of a senior high school and technical education he would not have easily received as a civilian.

Then, after 12 years in the military, civilian life beckoned. In 1978, two years after Papua New Guinea gained independence and two years shy of the PNGDF’s first overseas deployment in Vanuatu, the 28-year-old sergeant Luke Goa, left what had become the Papua New Guinea Defence Force led by Brigadier General Ted Diro.

As a civilian, Goa had to readjust to a new life which meant learning new skill sets.

“When I left the army, I enrolled at the Lae Technical College, now called the Lae Polytech where I took a Pre-employment Technical Training (PETT) course in catering.”

Since then, Luke Goa has been in managing catering businesses for a living with his longest stint at Unitech to the present day.

But to say the army and catering is what makes Luke Goa the man he is, would be an understatement of the abilities of this remarkably humble character.

Whilst in the army, Luke Goa, began learning various martial arts. As a young man, he traversed the 1970s sporting landscape, fighting in boxing tournaments and rubbing shoulders with professional Papua New Guinean boxers like Martin Benny and fellow Bougainvillean, John Aba.

With much interest in boxing circles, Goa drew away from the hype and began serious study in the Okinawan art of Goju-Ryu karate under Hawaiian Sensei, Sal Ebenez. Goju-Ryu is what is called a “hard-soft” style blending ancient Chinese style of fighting with traditional Japanese styles.

“The style of Goju-Ryu appealed to me because it’s applications of technique are both soft and hard,” he says. “Sometimes when a person throws a hard punch, the best way is to go with the flow. If you meet with a hard block you may be injured.”

The discipline from the military and karate have become ingrained in his life.

“Sometimes, when students are frustrated about the catering at the university and they come to you, you cannot meet their complaints with a hard stand.

“Goju-Ryu karate teaches you to be calm and to go forth with a soft response.”

As the most senior Goju-Ryu karate practitioner in Papua New Guinea,   He is known to his students as “Sensei” Luke Goa.

On 10th July, this year he celebrated his 66th birthday.


The changing landscape of journalism and media in PNG…


Seven years ago, I was doing a presentation at Divine Word University centered around the transformational power of social media and mobile phone technology particularly in local communities.
While the idea was exciting to some, many among the audience viewed the new methods of news and information delivery with skepticism. At least one questioned how mobile phones would be charged in remote areas where there was no power.
My response was that in the future, these minor obstacles would be resolved and social media would outpace mainstream media in news and information delivery as well as in public confidence.
Not many appreciated the growth of the “new media.”
Back then, Facebook was relatively new in Papua New Guinea and the integration of mainstream and social media tools were in their infancy. In fact, it was around the same period, that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the biggest broadcaster in the region, began incorporating social media as one of the modes of news delivery.
Working among a small group of individuals, we experimented with new methods of information delivery into various communities around the country. Compared to the present day, the methods were cumbersome and limited. To add to all the challenges, the internet connections were slow and the cellphone technology expensive.
Uploading a 1.5 megabyte video on Facebook using a mobile phone was impossible. Uploading the same video on to YouTube using an internet connection on a desktop was also very slow. Sometimes, it would take all night to upload.
Around the same period, Whatsapp was launched in the US. But it was going to be a few more years before, the app came into the mainstream in Papua New Guinea. Many skeptics doubted the use of mobile phones in mainstream journalism. Yet, mobile phones and Facebook played an important role in bringing the pictures of the 2011 Airlines PNG crash in Madang to the world’s media.
On the crash site on the Rai Coast of Madang, the poor internet connection on the, now ancient, blackberry phone, three low resolution images not worthy of international publication were sent to the Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the ABC. They were immediately published with much gratitude sent to me.
Almost a decade since that presentation at Divine Word University, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media tools have become an integral part of mainstream news delivery.
Solar power chargers, power banks and solar powered lights have flooded the market bringing cheap electricity into rural areas.
To a new audience, I say the mainstream media in Papua New Guinea will be transformed further into the future with live broadcasts online from mobile phones, eliminating the need for expensive, traditional satellite uplinks. There will be an increase in the demand for citizen generated video news content.
This will challenge how Papua New Guineans view traditional forms of journalism. This transformation will also require a shift in journalism and media training in Divine Word University and the University of Papua New Guinea.
The two universities will require an increased level of industry input in training and curriculum development. Students will need to be better skilled at handling the transformation in technology whilst maintaining a strong foundation in the fundamentals of journalism and the media.

Wagambie: “The place you were born is always very special to you”

dsc06584In 1992, after completing 10 Grade at the Lae Provincial High School, 16-year-old Anthony Wagambie Jr, photocopied his grade 10 certificate at a shop in Lae City and   sent it off with a handwritten expression of interest to join the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

The letter, sent by registered mail, was done in secrecy and without the consent of his mother and father, who was then the   Police Metropolitan Superintendent of Lae.

“I saved all my pocket money for that job,” he says with a grin. “Registered mail was K2 and that was a lot of money at the time. My parents didn’t know.”

For Anthony Wagambie Jr, there was never a doubt in his mind as to what he wanted to do in life. From an early age, he pretended he was a cop. When played, he wore wearing matching blue tracksuits and carried   a baton and a toy pistol. As a teenager, he listened to the police radio instead of music.”

Then at the first opportunity, he tried enlisting in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.

“I had to make up an excuse to go to town that day when I sent off my application to join the constabulary.”

Weeks later, his dad, Anthony Wagambie Sr. received a call from the Bomana Police College querying his son’s application. Academically, Anthony Wagambie Jr did well in high school school and was expected to get a placing at a higher education institution.

“My plan was if I got selected and my parents didn’t agree, I would run away and join the police force anyway.

“My parents were very annoyed with me for not telling them about my application. My dad replied, to the college saying: ‘Take his name off the list.”

It was a major drawback for a 16-year-old with his heart set of becoming a cop. He was somewhat encouraged by advice from his father that enrollments would open for officer cadets and that he could apply if he wished. His first priority, however, was to get an education.

Months later, Anthony Wagambie Jr was accepted to what was then Divine Word Institute  for matriculation studies.   But his relentless pursuit to become a police officer like his father didn’t stop. By the end of the first semester of 1994, he sent off a second expression of interest to the Bomana Police College which was accepted.

“It wasn’t something I thought about. There was no difficulty of choice. I knew what I wanted to do.”

Anthony Wagambie Jr is a third generation cop. Both his paternal and maternal grandfathers served in the pre independence constabulary and retired in the 1970s. Born in Anjou Hospital, Lae in 1976, he is, what he calls, a “Lae kid.”

“There is a difference between being a Morobean and being a ‘Mangi Lae.’ A Morobean is ‘asples’ or someone who has land and a village here. A ‘Mangi Lae’ is a person like me, born and raised here.”

He was baptized at St. Mary’s Catholic Church by police chaplain, Fr. Brian Barnes who later Became Archbishop of Port Moresby.

“My parents were married with full police honors. I was born, baptized and raised here in Lae. Our family home is at Eriku. Lae is my home.”

Anthony Wagambie Jr spent his childhood traversing the length and breath of the Momase and the Highlands region.   The family moved from province to province as Anthony Wagambie Sr. took up various commands.

In latter part of 1994, Anthony discarded the option of entering first year of journalism studies at Divine Word University and joined a handful of other hopefuls who were called to the Bumbu Police Barracks in in Lae where a police recruitment team screened their applications.

“Over the years, a lot of people have talked about how I got into the police force because my father was a senior officer,” he says. “They don’t tell you directly but you know and you hear about it. Actually, I got selected and it wasn’t because of my dad.”

As a serving member of the constabulary, he was always mindful of the fact that his father was a senior commander in the RPNGC.   On one occasion, as a mobile squad commander, he found himself reporting to his father who was then tasked to manage the highlands.

“I still called him Sir. I saluted him just like any other officer and I carried out his orders. He never treated me any different from the other policemen and women.

“When I did something wrong, he would call me up on the radio and blast me while everyone was listening.”

At 29, Wagambie Jr became the Provincial Police Commander for Madang, a post he held   for 6 years. As a younger member of the constabulary, he said it is important to seek advice and guidance from older more experienced subordinates.

“I am fortunate that I worked with good people who helped me along the way.” As a serving officer rising through the ranks, he was always cautious about offers of promotion. Towards the end of his father’s   service, Wagambie Sr. was appointed Commissioner of Police.

“I was willing to sacrifice some promotions during that time. I didn’t want people to say: ‘his father gave him the job.’” I want to earn my own respect and not live under my father’s shadow.

“I had to let him serve out his term as Commissioner of Police before I even considered promotions.

“I wanted to work hard for the ranks.   Because, you know, I had big shoes to fill.”

More than 10 months ago, Anthony Wagambie Jr. Was appointed Metropolitan Superintendent of Lae, the post his father held for 8 years in the 1990s. Coming back to the place of his birth has been fulfilling both personally and professionally.

“Lae City is a good command for a police officer. Resources are scarce and it is difficult but it forces you to become creative in how you do policing. It is a good place to learn.

“The place you were born is always very special to you,” he says.


Captain Zeriga Oida, teacher to seafarer

Captain Zeriga Oida on the bridge of the MV Rainforest

On the bridge of the MV Rainforest, the newest vessel added to the fleet of ships operated by Morobe Coast Shipping Services, Zeriga Oida, seafarer issues a set of short and precise orders.
“Port to starboard…” he says with his eyes to the front. The order is echoed on the bridge as the vessel inches several degrees to the right. He barks several more orders and each is repeated and followed with precision.
It is one o’clock in the morning as the vessel comes to dock at the Vocopoint wharf in Lae. For the crew, this is standard procedure repeated every day. But for everyone else on board, it was an eye-opener watching the coordination between captain and crew as they navigated the open sea in heavy rain at night hours prior without any visibility.
Hours earlier, the 54-year-old, veteran seafarer laughed at my sense of almost childlike wonderment and curiosity.
“So… what’s the blue patch on the screen?”
I was told that the blue patches are sandbanks showing on the screen. He points to another screen, which shows satellite imagery of cloud cover and the shoreline.
“This is how ships operate these days,” he says. Of course, you can’t expect the captain to look outside in the dark and see where the shoreline is in bad weather and darkness.”

Fisherman near Morobe Patrol Post

For many in Morobe coastal shipping fraternity, Zeriga Oida is a household name. He is captain of the MV Gejamsao, formerly owned by the now liquidated Lutheran Shipping Company. Today he stood in for a colleague who was sick and took the MV Rainforest to the Morobe Patrol Post for the 14 hour round trip.
Not many know where Zeriga Oida came from.
In 1992, he quit his former job as a primary school teacher and went to the Madang Maritime College to gain formal qualifications as a seafarer.
“I got posted to very remote schools,” he said. “I requested a different posting and the education department wouldn’t listen so I got angry and I quit.”
In 1992, he joined a class of young intending seafarers. Already in his early 30s he was one of the oldest in the class.
Zeriga Oida is from the Jia language group of the Morobe Patrol Post. His ancestors were proud warriors and seafarers. In the period of recorded history, he is a third generation seafarer drawing on the skills and the love for the sea from the generations before.
“My grandfathers bought ships that travelled the Morobe coast carrying passengers, cocoa and copra. My father was also a seafarer and I followed in their footsteps.”
The job has taken him around the entire country and around every island province.
“I’ve travelled from the PNG Indonesian border in the Western Province to Amino. I’ve circled Bougainville, New Ireland, New Britain and Manus.”
Zeriga Oida has been in the business for over 20 years and watched the demise of the iconic Lutheran shipping more than two years ago.
“When Lutheran shipping shut down its operations, a lot of people suffered. It was bad management. While we are trying to revive the shipping service, we still have a long way to go.”

How a tragedy created new friendships

Cecilia Bula & JP Matlam

An early morning service at the Divine Word University chapel in Madang ushered in thoughts of 28 people who died when an Airlines PNG Dash 8 crashed into a riverbed along Raikos in Madang.

Only a handful of residents attended the service during which the priest reminded everyone of the tragedy and the need keep their memories alive.

Every year, the family members of those who died come to Madang to remember them. In the last pew, JP Matlam, sits with his eyes to the front. JP, short for John Paul, lost his mother, two sisters and his nephew in the crash.

A few pews away, members of the Bula family sit among other parishioners- only the children are left in this family. Cecilia Bula and her elder sister, Helen lost their parents – Geoffrey and Cotilde.

Each year, the group has gotten smaller because of the cost of travel preventing many of the families from coming to Madang for the memorial.

“It’s always hard when it comes to October,” says JP. “I lost my mom, my sister, Natasha Matlam Bonga, her son and my younger sister.

“Everyone needs a family support system but half my family was taken away just like that,and it has been hard”.

In 2011, the Airlines PNG Dash-8 traveling to Madang crashed into an old riverbed in the Rai Coast District . Villagers nearby could only rescue the pilot, a crew member and a passenger. Most of those on board were traveling to Madang for a graduation ceremony at the Divine Word University.

For the last five years, the October 13 has been a time of sadness for the 28 families. Each person directly affected has dealt with the tragedy in different ways.

Cecilia Bula returned to Madang after her graduation at Divine Word University to work at the University. She has not spoken much about the tragedy until this year.

“I guess one of reasons I retuned to Madang to work is…”.

She pauses to fight back the tears. “…Because of them…”

The interview is stopped for a short while as she finds time to collect herself. Not many outside this group of friends will understand the grief and the pain. Much of it is expressed in the silence.

JP, is a young man who has become a pillar of strength within the small group. As Cecilia stands by the flooded river to wipe her tears away from the camera, JP comes to stand by her. No words. He picks up a small pebble and tosses it into the river.

For a few long moments they all stand in silence.

What has developed in five years is a beautiful friendship between members of the families who lost their parents and loved ones.

“When I meet the family members, I think of that time,” says Monica Tiriman who lost her husband, Simon during the crash. For now, it is all she can manage during the interview.

“We are family now,” says JP. “When I come to Madang, I have a house to stay. We talk about our grievances and we provide support to each other”.

“You would think that after five years, the pain would go away. But it’s still there”.

Coming back to Madang has always been hard for the Bulas. Cecilia and Helen were not able to take back their mum and dad’s remains.

jp2The coroner’s office declared them missing. What they have to come back to is another memorial set up at the Madang cemetery where the unidentified remains of the crash victims are buried. This memorial is the closest thing they have to a grave for their parents.

“Every year, I call the other families,” says Helen Bula. “Many of the families live in Kimbe and travelling is costly for them. Sometimes, families have problems and they call me.

“I have not met many of them in person. They cry over the phone. What can I do?

“Going into the future, I think we’ll still maintain the bond that we have and it’s going to be OK.”

Why children should be loved and respected


Before birth, each child is asked by the Creator if he is willing to be placed in the care of a mother on earth.
It is sometimes a difficult choice for the child who, prior to birth can see all his past lives, the trials, tribulations, joy, laughter and eventually the transition that returns him to the Creator.
The Creator reminds him that making that choice is a personal matter and that it will mean living life in physical form again without the benefit of the memories of the past. The Creator reminds him that he will be growing up in the care of those he chooses and will depend entirely on them for their for love and care.
It is never an easy choice to make. But the child knows that he also has a responsibility to guide the parents he chooses. His responsibility will be to teach them to love each other and to grow in unison. He knows he will teach them responsibility and patience and all the virtues desired by the Creator.
The Creator watches and sees the life of the child’s mother. He sees many possibilities. Sometimes, the child will be sent as a blessing for his father or mother or a lonely sibling. Sometimes, he will be sent to bring hope. Sometimes, they will be sent only for a short while to bring a family together. Sometimes, the child is sent to become an anchor in the lives of his parents.
The Creator seeks the child yet again. He tells him that the job is important and that he is the only one who is suitable for it. Again, it is the child’s choice whether to go to the mother and become a physical being again.
Finally, after much thought. The child agrees. The Creator reminds him to be strong in the face of difficulty and to trust the parents he chooses. The Creator reminds him that they will not be perfect and they will make mistakes. Sometimes, they will be unkind and hurtful to him and each other. But the Creator reminds him that life is a journey and whenever he feels helpless or sad the Creator will send helpers in many forms and the child will know because the child will be able to see the helper’s spirit. The helper may be an animal or a person. But the child will know, the Creator reminds him.
The Creator reminds the child that after birth, the child will gradually lose his connection to him and will have to find his way back through his life.
The child then bids farewell to the Creator and transitions to this world and into the womb of his chosen mother.
So as much as we think we own them, our children do not belong to us. We are but custodians and guardians given the task to care for a child and we are obligated to love and care for them.

The spirit of brotherhood |A tribute by Davidson Anere

dsc_2346This day 52 years ago in Isuleilei, Fife Bay, Milne bay Province,  my late brother, Dr Ray Anere, my cousin Dickson Kaisar and Lenden Gaganumore were playing the “Tiggy game” and running around the old colonial bungalow – “Big House.” I was tigged and everyone ran in all directions. I ran after Dickson, he was too fast. I ran after Lenden, he too was faster although he was shorter than I. I ran to Ray who was standing on the rail of the Big House, I tried tigging him and in due process of moving, he lost balance and fell 20 feet to the ground. He landed just an inch away from the stones mum placed for cooking. Ray fainted and was short of breath. Dickson, in a state of shock, ran to the garden and informed Mum and Dad. They all came rushing back and as I anticipated. I got the whipping from Dad and Mum. I was so hurt to see my brother being carried to Lebohai Hospital, Lawes College, Fife Bay.

I felt so bad and bruised on my ass.

When Uncle (Late) Dr Roy Kamkilakai arrived, I knew the worst of whipping was to come. I ran away and hid among the kunai grass and slept under a tree. Isuleilei was famous for Papuan Black Snakes. I dosed off to sleep under the “Mawaii” tree not realizing time had passed by so fast. A Papuan Black snake crawled up next to me coiled itself and slept. By 7.30 pm everyone began looking for me. They searched everywhere. Mum decided to check the “Mawaii Tree” and found me lying next to a black snake. She screamed for help. All came running and tried to kill the snake, but Dad said: “let it go.” The snake crawled away gracefully and disappeared among the kunai grass.

Mum hugged me and cried:  “Son, I am so sorry, we would have lost your brother, and we can’t afford another.” While sobbing, I mumbled: “I am sorry mum, for what I did to Ray.” She said with blurry eyes: “He is okay under medical care and recovering…”

Years later, we both continued our education together at Fife Bay primary school as pioneers of the school and lived at Isuisu Village with our maternal uncles. Ray stayed with Uncle Eseroma Kamkilakai, and I stayed with Uncle Haig Kaiser. There were times, we would return from the seven mile walk from  Fife Bay Primary School and back,during good and bad weather 24/5 for 365 days for eight years of primary education. Ray and I supported each other as loyal brothers. There were times when we return from school late, I would have no food. I would go climb a coconut tree and get fresh coconuts. Ray would come out of Uncle Eseroma’s house, wrap a sago in his laplap and walk down the beach to meet and give me the sago for dinner.

We continued from Fife Bay Primary School to Cameron High School (now Cameron Secondary . We had lost mum than in 1970,  two weeks before our Grade Six National Exams. During mum’s funeral service, Ray and I did not attend school and that afternoon, the Head Master of Fife Bay Primary School, Mr Daniel Kennerghan walked all the way to Isuisu to talk to my Dad and uncles to release us and attend examination reviews and to sit for the exam in two weeks time. We did.

In 1971 we both entered Cameron High School together. Our Dad had lost mum and his entire Pastoral salary of AUD$5.00 per month was all used.

The time came for us to leave and farewell Isuisu village in 1970 for Cameron on the Suau LLG boat, MV Toroha captained by Uncle, Mr Joe Pokari (father of Mr Francis Pokari). When we got to the wharf at Alotau, the Cameron truck was there and students began unloading their belongings. I got my little red wooden suitcase (for Goodenough labourers). In it were two laplaps and a shirt – that was all I owned in the world. I was so proud of my red suitcase because it was painted “red.” Ray wasn’t so happy. My Dad had packed his two laplaps, one shirt in a biscuit carton. He was embarrassed and cried when he saw that  other students had better suitcases. Dad had to carry his box.

At the time of departure from Cameron, My dad could only afford to give us both $5 dollars each. We had to convert that $5 into a meaningful life…and we did.

For the 4 years of education at Cameron High School, we would work for teachers and earn our little pay to sustain ourselves. In 1974 there was a review of school fee payments and those who had not paid for two or three years were asked to pay up or be terminated. I called Ray over and we both went to see the Principal, Mr Bill (William) Strang. He called us in and asked: “Do you two have anyone to help assist you pay off your school fees?”

I looked at Ray and he looked at me. I thought of my mum’s brother late Dr Roy Kamkilakai. I mentioned his name to the Principal. They contacted him as he was than the Medical Superintendent at Daru Hospital. He received a telex message and paid off the 4 years of school fees at Cameron. He rang the school and I spoke to him and these were his words: “David, why didn’t you let me know all these years? You almost got terminated from school due to non payment of school fees. Don’t worry, I paid it in full, now study hard, the both of you” I said “thank you Uncle, we will try our best.”

From Cameron, I went to UPNG while Ray went to Sogeri National High and completed 2 years secondary education. While at Sogeri, Ray had no pocket money so he went down to Konedobu where all the Suau boys were working as store keepers and so forth. During those times Suau people were famous for “cooks” and “store keepers.” Ray somehow fancied the idea of being a storekeeper so he worked for a week at Konedobu in a store. The news got to Uncle Roy. He drove over to the Konedobu Chinese shops and told Ray to leave. He got him to the house and gave him an ear bashing. Ray, responded..”Uncle, I am tired of eating tin fish.” Uncle laughed, and he began telling his life journey too from Isuisu to Fiji School of Medicine, London School of Tropical Medicine, Auckland University and as the first Papua New Guinean to enter John Hopkins Medical School, John Hopskins University, USA. Ray sat listening and was in tears -he felt inspired and lit up. The rest is history.

Ray entered UPNG in 1977 and and graduated in 1980 and an Honours Degree in 1981 with Distinction and continued to Australian National University, and than to Claremont Graduate School, University of California, USA and became the first Papua New Guinean ever to hold a PhD in Political Science as a FULLBRIGHT SCHOLAR. He came back and served at UPNG for 23 years before going onto NRI until his untimely departure in 2015. I supported him all the way and gave him the back up for studies as a brother who shared a same vision and destiny – academics.

In 1995 when I was on diplomatic tour of duty in Paris France, he reciprocated and encouraged me to do a Doctorate Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy. We sat long hours discussing and suggesting topics for research. I enrolled at the Superior Institute of International Relations and its Center for Diplomacy and Strategic Studies (CEDS), a College of The University of Sorbonne in Paris, France. I did four years of studies and traveled broadly for research and and compiled my doctoral paper on: HOW MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOCIOECONOMIC AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY OF THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES; A CASE STUDY ON THE BOUGAINVILLE CRISIS, PAPUA NEW GUINEA. In 2002, I defended my doctoral theses and obtained a Summa Cum Laude (Highest Distinction) in the First Class Category. I was the first Papua New Guinean to ever hold a doctorate degree in International Relations and Diplomacy.

Today, I look back down the memory lane, and I say, thank you RAY, AGUTOI for supporting me. We have been  true Brothers all the way through.