BY BASIL B PEUTALO
ON THE OCCASION of the 36th Independence anniversary of our country, I would like to pay tribute to some people who are not my relations, not even wantoks, but who helped me and my family not only appreciate but share in their generosity and basic human fellowship, the true meaning of “One People, One Country, One God”.
Pursuing a life as a self-employed consultant in the social and community development sector has its ups and downs.
In my historical graph as a freelance consultant, the latter has mostly very long bars. The year 2008 was an annus horibilus for me and my family of six: the peak of my selfish self-employment idealism.
I lost the tenancy on our accommodation due to prolonged non-payment of rental. I was faced with a very long delay in securing any contracts during the first quarter of 2008. No contract or job ever came for me until June 2009.
My family and I were evicted after incurring massive rentals that are still haunting me to this date. My social responsibilities to my family remained high with four dependants still going to school.
One, who was attending a technical college, decided to start a family under cover of his schooling. Well, he brought about a beautiful little girl in this year. This little angel created a milestone for me and my wife as grandparents. But the joy of welcoming this little beauty was overshadowed by our predicament.
It is difficult to say it, but I began indefinite and numerous rounds of begging from friends, contacts and people who were friends of our friends and even acquaintances.
And this was when I came upon one of these acquaintances. His name - Wai Havoame from Olunguti, Lufa District, Eastern Highlands Province.
He and his family lived in a settlement up on the ridges that run above the National Broadcasting Commission premises towards Port Moresby International School.
Wai and his family have a very close family friend, John Khalalale, an accountant by profession, from Simbu Province. Wai informed John Khalalale of our predicament.
John and his family owned a big two story house at Boroko. They occupied the top floor with the ground floor vacant. They generously allowed us to move with all our household items and boxes of my work records into this vacant ground floor. At least there was a roof over our head and safe place to hide. We stayed at John’s house for the whole of 2008.
We did not even given much consideration as to how we were going to eat and survive even under the roof and safety of John Khalalale’s house.
This was where and how these two families, unknown to us and from other provinces, conscientiously demonstrated in all the remaining days of 2008 what is meant to be Papua New Guinean.
They fed us. They protected us. Wai worked as a chef with a catering company in Port Moresby. He would bring leftovers from his kitchen to us every evening. John Khalalale would give some money to us regularly.
These two families are from the Highlands region and they are Seventh Day Adventist Church members. My family and I are from the New Guinea Islands Region. We are Catholics.
Wai Havoame and his family and John Khalalale and his family did not consider any of these tags. We are all Papua New Guineans under One Flag and One God.
Thank you Wai and John with your respective loving families for sharing with us your meaning and spirit of true Papua New Guineans.