I READ the article by Phil Fitzpatrick in PNG Attitude on how the wonderful hard working and industrious women in Papua New Guinea are mistreated but may one day be in power.
Phil sounded like he lives on my street at 4 Mile in Lae and sees the struggles of the women who sit on the roadside selling their wares while their lazy, bossy husbands dropping by bludging money off them to drown themselves in homebrew and rolled joints.
The result? They make fools of themselves on the roadside. Grotesque froth covered faces, uttering squawks and gibberish, running like fools on the road, swearing like stupids and cussing the mothers who are struggling to sell their wares to put food on the evening plates.
What a bunch of pathetic losers! A rabble of lost in-between fools!
This species of Papua New Guinean man confuses me. Are they the 1970s? The 1980s? I don’t know. But the question beguiles me. Which era are these lunatics from?
It brings to mind my class this week. I was teaching Language to Grade 6 in the Salvation Army School. We read an article in a textbook about a Goroka woman, Pauline, who lived in Port Moresby selling her capsicums, onions, carrots, eggplant and cabbages near Manu Auto Parts.
From selling the vegetables, she paid her children’s school fees while her jobless husband loafed around in the city.
When she wasn’t around her customers asked for her. She was a popular lady who worked very hard to grow more vegetables and keep her customers happy.
At the end of Pauline’s story the students had to answer some questions. One was, “Do you know of any woman who works hard to feed her children?”
Three-quarters of the class answered, “Yes we know of women who work hard to feed their children.”
Martin wrote, “Yes I know a woman who works hard to feed my sister and me. This woman is my mum.”
Martin is my son and he is in Grade 6.
You can imagine how my heart did a double flip. I never realised this child saw the effort I put in to keep him and his sister in school and to make sure they are fed properly.
As a mother, my wish is for my son to grow up to be a good man who treats his family well and takes care of them.
Since June this year, I have been teaching at the Salvation Army School. There is one thing in particular I have come to notice. Many students have problems at home.
I have talked with many of them and the problems mainly relate to their fathers leaving their families and having a ball while the children go hungry and their mothers struggle to make ends meet.
There are many students at this school who come from single parent homes and mostly live with their mothers.
Recently, I attended a funeral for one of my student’s father who had passed away at 44 years of age. He was a wonderful husband and father but had a brain tumour, went blind and passed on.
Now his wife is left with three children to take care of. While he has left wonderful memories for his family, there are other men who live on who we sometimes wish would just vanish.
That same day, a colleague and close friend attended another funeral for a female parent. This woman’s story was different because it highlighted “the in-between man, lost generation brutality era”.
The woman was beaten and forced out of her home, going to live with her parents while her husband entertained other women in front of the two children.
She told my colleague earlier this year, when she came for her son’s school interview, that her husband would come home drunk, beat her and then wake their children and give them kerosene and matches so they could burn her clothes. What a brute!
There was a sad ending to this woman’s ordeal when she suddenly fell very ill and passed away in her parents’ home.
There are so many wonderful husbands, fathers, brothers and uncles in PNG. They feed their families and work hard each day.
Others have good jobs but use that as an excuse to terrorise their wives and children.
The homebrew, alcoholic lost generation is a big problem in the community. They are like spoilt brats who think that the world revolves around them and that they will live forever.
The Christian schools are not doing enough to help. They worry more about fees and making money and do not uphold Christian principles.
Their discipline and counselling systems are not appropriate. Students’ needs are neglected and they are viewed as a group instead of being seen as individuals who might need help and a adult mentoring.
Christian schools in PNG are no better than other schools when it comes to caring for students’ innermost needs. Schools run privately are all about money. It is a business and students are simply the wares in which they deal. Believe it or not, that is a fact.
Is this a cause of the ‘lost generation’?
The time when our first national leaders like Paulias Matane matured was not an era of a lost generation. This was a success generation. Is there a more recent and more serious problem in the way our schools are developing students?
If students are neglected in their homes, should Christian schools step in?
“A man who treats his wife like a Princess is raised by a Queen.” Is this saying true?
How about, “A man who treats his wife like Trash is raised by a Hag.” What do you think?
Is the “male in-between lost generation era” the fault of women? Did we neglect children who turned out to be losers and brutes?
Can we, as women change this generation of modern readers, iPad fanatics, video gamers and internet nerds into better men?
Are we as strong as our good men of that earlier era?