THE rays of the morning sun did not penetrate the canopy of Siane jungle at the foot of Mount Elimbari.
But the couple – half naked and wearing tree bark and leaves – who lived there with their pretty daughter enjoyed the tranquillity of the virgin forest.
They raised their daughter on the protein and fruit they hunted and gathered from the jungle. She grew up as a jungle queen.
Then her parents planned to change this life. They went hunting at night for bandicoot and possum and returned with a hefty catch.
They selected the best animals to sell at Movi market. The mother put them in her string bag and the couple trekked downhill to the market.
They quickly sold their catch, then purchased store goods and a pair of clothes for their daughter and returned home.
Arriving home, they called their daughter who returned with some fruit and a length of bamboo containing water from the jungle as she usually did.
They sat in front of the house and the mother began presenting some of the manufactured goods to her daughter.
She took out the clothes from her string bag and said, “Daughter today will no longer be like yesterday when we wore leaves as skirts. Now you will wear clothes to seal your body from being half naked.”
The jungle queen looked anxious. However, she was attracted by the colour of the new clothes.
Her mother removed the grass skirt and put on the clothes. The girl felt comfortable and rewarded her mother with a smile to show her gratitude. Her parents eyes filled with tears of joy.
“Next year you will go to Movi Community School and education will change our lifestyle from nomads to civilised people,” her father said.
And to signify the occasion, they hosted a banquet for their daughter and named her Siane Wena, which means a young girl from the jungle of Siane.
Siane Wena was given a big pig to mark both her new name and her move away from jungle life.
She was delighted about the event and the words from her parents. She had a wonderful afternoon at the foot of Mount Elimbari thinking about school in such a distant place.
Her parents enrolled her in Grade 1 at Movi. For the first term her parents took her back and forth each day. Her results were outstanding and her parents were impressed and gladdened.
Before Siane Wena completed Grade 6, the family migrated to the gorges of Movi and built a new home not far from the school. This made her feel more relaxed and better able to study. At the Grade 6 graduation she was awarded dux of the year.
Her parents had no words to express; they celebrated with tears of joy in their home.
She was selected to do Grade 7 at Yauwe Moses High School. In the academic arena she was the best of all the students. This academic excellence continued all the way until Grade 10, when she became the first female student to be dux of the school.
Now came the time to leave Simbu as she was selected to do Year 11 at Sogeri National High School near Port Moresby. Her parents held another big party to farewell her to such a foreign land.
Her parents took Siane Wena to Kundiawa Airport for her departure to Port Moresby. At the terminal before she boarded the plane, they shed more tears.
She arrived at Jacksons Airport and the school truck took her up to the plateau of Sogeri. Siane Wena was not only the prettiest girl of those years in Grades 11 and 12, she also excelled academically. At the end of Year 12, she was awarded dux of humanities and applauded as one of the best students of the year.
The following year she arrived at the University of Papua New Guinea, studying journalism, and completed her degree after four years. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with flying colours.
Siane Wena was employed by the Post-Courier newspaper as a journalist. On one occasion she was tasked to cover court proceedings on the Sandline mercenary issue. She interviewed the defence counsel, a lawyer from Australia.
The lawyer invited her for a lunch at the Grandville Hotel. The relationship developed and they eventually married at Marimari Lutheran Church.
When their first child, a boy, was born, they took the child to Siane village on the eve of Christmas and celebrated his birthday with Siane Wena’s bride price as is the custom. An amount of K200,000 was paid to her parents as a token of her life as a jungle beauty and also to mark the birth of the first born son.
Her parents took the money as a compliment to their hard work to raise Siane Wena from a poor, primitive life until she reached a life which fulfilled all their dreams for her.
All parents should know the importance of educating girls so they can experience as good a future as boys.