BY RACHAEL BERRY
A life’s journey destined to fulfil God’s purpose
TYRA GREW UP IN THE REMOTE TOWN of Tabubil located in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea. Amazing landscapes, rainforest and waterfalls surround the township. A place that, long hidden, has now been discovered to be rich in the natural resources of gold and copper.
Tyra’s father had been a heavy equipment operator for Ok Tedi Mining Limited, the company that owns the mine. While her mother is just an ordinary homemaker who comes from an ordinary village life, she appreciates the privilege of living a modern lifestyle of having to travel and using modern whitegoods.
Being third in a family of six can be fun and exciting, but the family’s regular domestic violence placed a negative impact on Tyra’s life while growing up. She developed bitterness and hatred for her father for his violent abuse of her mother. But she was never afraid to stand up for what was right and cared for her mother more than anyone in her life.
Tyra has a strong personality - she enjoys adventures, embraces nature and outdoor activities. A character that is passionate about helping poor and needy people and living a life that brings glory to God.
At the age of 14, Tyra transferred to a mission school called the School of Tomorrow in a remote village in her hometown Wewak, in the East Sepik Province. That year there was a drought and it was difficult for the small town of Tabubil to supply food for the whole population of the town and so the company had to send the wives and children of the workers away.
Those years taught her to be independent and to take care of herself. She was taught Christian values while studying at the mission school. Memorising bible scriptures, having regular devotions and fellowships were a normal discipline of the mission run schools.
The mission school was a few kilometres away from her traditional village and so she spent a lot of the term breaks in the village with Grandma. During those years of being away from her parents, she loved village life and mostly her love for her Grandma.
They shared such a special bond and friendship that Tyra kept her Grandma as one of those special people in her heart. She prayed that God could give Grandma the strength to live each day so she could see her get a job and take care of her one day. The drought ended after two years and Tyra moved back to Tabubil to be with the rest of her family.
However, Grandma passed on after a year. It was a feeling that she never forgot the day she received that news after arriving home from a part time job at the local golf club. Her heart sank and deeply broken, she cried all-day and even every time she remembers Grandma.
Father did not let her to travel back home to say her last goodbye to Grandma because he wanted to save money to take her by plane to Port Moresby to attend college.
Finally the time came for Tyra’s education journey. She felt a happy feeling sweep through her spirit. It had been a long journey in life for the 20-year-old, after all the years of trying to study hard and mostly being with the rest of the family. She had to leave home again.
It was not a bad idea at all thought Tyra. At least she now could to get away from all these regular arguments between her father and mother. She loved her family but hated the kind of life her parents always had. She knew father was the one that really needed to change.
Mother felt a little insecure about Tyra being alone with their other relatives in Port Moresby. Mother was always scared to let Tyra go to live on her own with family relatives for fear that others might say bad things about her if she didn’t help with household chores.
“Mama it’ll be fine, trust me I’ll change when I’m with other people”, Tyra said. “Tyra, I’m afraid you might not and they’ll say bad things about you”, said Mother.
“Look, I’ll do it, you just have to trust me, I’ve done nothing much here because I always relied on you to do everything, and I can’t stay here like this without furthering my education”. Mother nodded in agreement.
Mother finally realised that there was nothing she could do if she wanted her children to be better educated but to accept the fact that one day they would leave her. Like the birds, when children are able to fly they leave their home, the nest.
Nevertheless, the idea of living in a big city can be quite scary, especially when growing up in small town. She had no idea how it would be to live in such a big city. However, what was ahead was a mystery that she had to face and live with for the rest of her life.
Everything was set and ready, Tyra had to say farewell again to her friends, and all her neighbours who she had always called family. January 2003 Father, Mother and Tyra boarded the plane to Port Moresby. It was a two and half hour flight to Port Moresby.
A mixed feeling of excitement and sadness rested heavily on her, she was not sure what was ahead of her. She did not even know how long she would be away and what it could be like to be separated from the rest of the family.
She brushed away those thoughts knowing that it was for her own good. She had always thought about attending college and getting a good job in the future. A dream of being an engineer might not be possible as she never got further than doing year eleven or twelve but there was still hope to be trained and get a better job one day.
Father enrolled Tyra at the City College of Technology to study information technology, a two-year diploma program offered by the college.
Her parents flew back home leaving her in Port Moresby that year.
She moved into a girl’s home after living with her uncle for a month. The girl’s home had mostly young and mature women living there; some were divorced mothers. It was a girl’s home run by Catholic sisters.
It was a beautiful place to live and the women and girls there were friendly. Tyra moved into a room where a divorced mother was living. The rooms were very large and shared by four girls. Christian values were encouraged in the hostel and Tyra felt good that she was in the right place.
Days and months went by so quickly and she found friendship with young woman who worked for a primary school as a secretary. Bea was someone who had a big heart to reach out to others. She assisted Tyra in providing her with extra food and money whenever possible.
Tyra confided in Bea and appreciated the love and care Bea has for her and they developed a friendship that was like sisters. Towards the end of the year, Tyra’s father died - on 23 December. It was unexpected news. “How could this be?” questioned Tyra.
She needed answers from the God that she believed in. Her father was the only bread winner of the family. How can I finish my college program now, she thought. She was confused and lost. Bea comforted her and offered to take care of her if she wanted to continue her education in Port Moresby.
Tyra travelled home for the funeral and burial of her father and the following year she decided to return to Port Moresby. That year Bea had moved into a new place and welcomed Tyra back. Bea had now taken personal responsibility to care for Tyra who was much younger. A year passed without hearing much from her family back home, it was as if no one remembered her existence.
Tyra thought about her three little sisters back home and wondered if they were doing well. She would cry and wished to get a job quickly to help her small ones. Bea saw the sorrow in Tyra’s heart and extended her help to her small sisters back home. Finally, Bea brought all her three small sisters to Port Moresby and looked after them all.
Bea became like a parent and guardian to them. She taught them good life values and how to embrace any obstacle and challenges that may come against them. She was there for them in all their needs, paying for their school fees and meeting personal needs. She was someone any orphan could wish to have.
Tyra and her sisters could never have come this far in life if it was not for Bea’s heart, care and acceptance of them into her life and family. She was a guardian angel placed on earth for taking care specifically of these young girls.
Today, Tyra lives her dream and works as an IT Administrator, Jane graduated with a Certificate in Tourism and Hospitality, got married and runs her own business, Basila is now doing her first year in a Bachelor of Health Management course at Divine Word University and finally, Maggie the last of them all has finished her Year 10 and is doing Matriculation.
Bea retired from her secretarial job and now works as a payroll and shipping clerk for a new company. She continues to live a single life and enjoys every moment of it as she grows older while still looking after the girls, who she calls her children.
She often quotes; “Life without God brings destruction, but when we walk with God all things are made possible.”
Rachael Berry (29) was born in Wewak in the East Sepik Province. This is the first time she has written a short story. She says the Crocodile Competition was a good chance to write a story that took place in the lives of people she had come to live with and even experienced herself. She adds that there are amazing stories about people out there that others don’t know about but if we try to write them down it can encourage and inspire others on the journey of life