JONATHAN OMBI (CALLED JUNIOR IN THE FAMILY) is a cousin-nephew of mine. I remember him as a naughty youngster playing rowdy games in the house and running around the neighbourhood causing trouble, in league with Rose's daughter Margaret.
They stole ice-cream from my fridge. Once I tricked them. I made some chicken soup, stored it in an ice-cream container and put it in the freezer. Later they said, "Daddy Peter, this ice cream traim nogat!"
All-in-all, a lovely and perfectly ordinary kid.
But Jonathan did something extraordinary. He walked close to 1,000 kms to find his parents.
After a family breakdown (sadly all too common) stories reached him at Morata - where he was being looked after by Aunties - that his dad was in Simbu, accompanying "Uncle Member" on the political trail.
After three weeks his mum left him in charge of Grandma to travel to Simbu to be with her husband.
This upset Junior – who wondered why should he be left alone. So he joined a group of seven Don Bosco students to walk from Moresby to Simbu to be with his parents.
After a brief stop at 9 Mile and a last hug from Grandma, Jonathan set off up the Kokoda track.
He lived on noodles and biscuits and suffered greatly from blisters and mosquitoes. But he kept up the spirits of his friends by singing his favourite songs from the Kuakumba Rats - Banz Nale Se Wanda Yo and Dema Saul's Wiggy Wiggy Girls.
He trudged on, meeting a group of American trekkers, who could not believe this young guy had walked all that way.
He eventually arrived at the coast and the next day managed to talk his way onto a boat bound for Lae. From there, and with a few friends still with him, they caught a PMV up the Highlands Highway and arrived at Kundiawa that night.
He said, "Mum and Dad were very surprised to see me, asking thousands of questions and hugging me and crying."
Sources: Post Courier, personal memories, Freida, and Jonathan himself