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12/01/2023

Alleviate Suffering through perseverance for Education

JPIC

There are millions of underprivileged children in the world who are deprived of their rights to education, food and water. The nations intensify their policies and regulations, and further develop economically or politically, however not rationally proportional. Perceiving from another angle, we discover that half or even more fall at the verge of the society in the poverty line. Particularly, the young children and women are at large the victims. The basic rights unplugged of their sight; education, shelter, parental love and protection, access to clean water and proper food for growth and development. As a fact, such situations cause people to migrate to other countries assuming they will find a better life condition of which their country could not offer. In most cases, these types of migrants aren’t successful so they will be given the reorientation and rehabilitation programmes to be able to adapt to their new country; which often takes many years to achieve the objectives.

A precious help

As the West Papuans migrated into Western province, Papua New Guinea, the government worked in partnership with the United Nations to settle them in Lowara known to be one of the untouched, uninhabited, jungle areas of the country. Fortunately, the Montfort Missionaries under the leadership of Bishop Gerard Deschamp already founded the Catholic Church and settled there. Immediately Montfort Sisters or the Daughters of Wisdom as we call them today, with the Christian Brothers and Montfort Fathers were the first missionaries who arrived in that jungle to administer us on the ground. Truly, it was unforgettably inspiring to see the immense and tireless effort they contributed for the love of these displaced refugees. Frankly, if the world would be able to recognise them then they would be granted award of heroism. Who is content to come to such places, to meet such people?

Only those with empathy and love of God rooted in them are able to do that. These are the Montfort Missionaries including the Daughters of Wisdom; Sr. Denise Hamann, Sr. Marie Claire, Sr. Carmel. And the Christian Brothers so skilled in architecture and building, Br. Mel Couch and Br. Ben. But our school mentors or principals were Br. John Stevenson and Br. Mel Couch. However, since the school was not legalised by the National Department of Education, these two admirable Brothers were known merely as school coordinators regardless of how resourceful and intellectual they were. What a bold spirit assuming these tasks out of scraps taking risks to do so. The community was uncertain what the future holds for their young generation, yet the daring missionaries were there for us pushing us forward to face the uncertainty head up.

For my case, a little girl growing up from nowhere in the jungle of Lowara, uncertain of my future, everything was a mystery of all the why, what, when, where and how…. It haunted my mind and gradually I began to accuse my parents to be the cause of all these- the indefinite life and future. Despite of that, our parents in the 1980s were so determined that schools ought to be opened soon with no more delay. Living in the makeshift tents, mothers sewed out empty rice bags received from the UNHCR in order to split classrooms with tree barks for the walls.

A collective effort

Each parent was responsible to improvise stationary needed with tinned fish papers and fire charcoals for writing. The tree barks were shaped out and smoothened and we used our laps as minute desks. I vividly recall how daring my father was to ensure us going to school. He himself was a teacher; his motivation was so high despite the fact that we were mostly girls but he did not make any difference.

“I would say my dad was inspired to make a change.”

Through thick and thins, life was in turmoil yet the schools were opened about two-three months and no one cares if it needs registration or not. Our parents, our fathers were teachers, back in West Papua and uprooted. They were reinstated into this newly created school amidst the jungle of East Awin or Iowara. In 1987, I went to this school first timer in grade one. The school was highly treasured by my society namely “Jameso Community School.” I started 1987 and completed 1996 my year ten in an unregistered school which was called Peter Torot High School.

The school coordinator was Br. Mel Couch, one of the Christian Brothers. I remember there were three Brothers gifted with diverse skills they utilized to ensure the successful management of the school. The Principal, Mr Harry Namaweng, was one of our educated fathers. Through the negotiations and perhaps signing contract bases, I was selected to attend teacher training in Kaindi Teacher’s College in Wewak, East Sepik Province at the age of sixteen. I was at that time so innocent at my starting juvenile stage of life. After three years living my college life, I returned home to teach as I turned nineteen.

An awareness

As time passed by, in my teaching ministry, I came to realise the demands of the changing society thus, I needed to obtain the Secondary School Certificates certified by the government of PNG as I could not anymore rely on the negotiation process done years ago. Subsequently, I took a daring step to enrol myself into St. Joseph’s International Catholic College in Port Moresby. I was so much thrilled of being accepted and given the second chance through the grace of God dwelling in the heart of the School Principal.

“The utmost thanks certainly I extend to my dearly beloved sisters of the Daughters of Wisdom of PNG Entity and the Delegation of the Asia- Oceania Council for granting me their fiat to give me this opportunity to take the course where I am in now.”

The year is gone and now are approaching the school exams term three and last term to complete year 11. By next year, 2023, I will complete year 12.

Perhaps many of us may think what a challenge to go back to sit for those grades again at my age. Rather, I placed my mindset as a student and I am enthusiast for the acceptance and respect of the students I gained in from every one of the College of Family and Faith.  I am really enjoying young-spiritedly the day-to-day studies. As Mrs Dusava, our class matron would say,” Cease the day for you know the chance won’t be repeated,” The teachers are very welcoming and simple including the Principal who is humble. He would literally approach me,” Sister how are you getting on with your studies? I merely say,” well, Principal, I am doing my best and I am optimist in most subjects except that numbers randomly dance.”

Celebration of PNG’s 47th Independence Day at St. Joseph’s International Catholic College.

Therefore, I do believe that God speaks very deeply in my life as I meditatively review my biography this far. God played his part interveening into what is considered impossible humanly at his own time – not my time. There were moments of agony when I intended to make difficult path of my life as my own. Yet now I view myself standing up the graceful hill and taking into account of every twists and turns that I have walked all through. And I feel as if saying likewise, “It’s nice to be here.” I mean to be a Daughter of Wisdom. Eventually satisfyingly to say,” I am letting myself to be fully reincarnated by God’s own grace to be able to fit into the world’s younger population’s study lifestyle.”

Sr. Beata Ayombe

 

 

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