Feature Articles

Welcome to this week's feature stories. The stories are from various Papua New Guinean writers. The main highlight this week is the story on .....

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nandex storms into Wewak


ST MARY'S Wirui Primary seventh grader, 14 year old Cyril Bolox was very disappointed that his school was unable to accommodate a visit for seven times world champion kick boxer Stanley 'head hunter' Nandex on Monday.

By force, his dad had to catch up with Nandex at Windjaamer beach motel at a dinner hosted by official sponsor, Joe Gabut in conjunction with Kurakum Lodge Wewak to satisfy his long-waiting wish - to meet Stanley Nandex in person.

Nandex met the young man, signed his autograph and posed for a photograph with him before flying out of Wewak early Tuesday morning. Bolox plans to produce a portrait of the photograph. 

The head hunter flew into Wewak late Sunday afternoon following an invitation by East Sepik Kick Boxing Association. He officially launched the association on Monday paving the way for Wewak to start preparations for the Momase Kick Boxing title fights in June which it will host.

Coordinator and PNG Games kick boxing gold medalist, Mark Sai said some 500 fighters from the region and country will attend and Wewak will need around K100,000 to play host.

To much delight and excitement, Kreer primary was the only lucky school in town to have the kick boxing sensation visited where he addressed staff and students on anti social behavior. He shared his life story after having dropped out of grade six at Sembirigi in Southern highlands where he originates.

"You can be champions too not just in sports but in everything that you want to do in life. But you must be disciplined, respect others, and stay away from drugs, home brew, alcohol, smoking, HIV AIDS and other anti social behavior if you really want to be a champion like me...," Nandex told students.

Official sponsor and promoter, Joe Gabut expressed grave concern on break down in social values resulting in escalating social problems in East Sepik and the country and urged parents to be more involved with their children.

"I have been supporting sports and kick boxing is one code that I feel I should support because it instills high level of discipline and change mind sets of our young people to become positive contributors to nation building," Gabut said.

Led by two singsing groups from Wewak islands, Nandex arrived in Wewak to a rousing fanfare where he addressed a crowd at the airport and again as late as 7:30 pm at Kurakum Lodge Wewak where he was accommodated. Sepik Music School brass band ushered him to awaiting singsing groups, and the SDA Church choir sang a special welcome note before the official cutting of ribbon at Kaindi YC hall on Monday morning by the champion fighter.

There Nandex officially congratulated the Team Sepik kick boxing squad for bagging five gold medals and topping the PNG Games in that respect. He also announced the selection of three Papua New Guinean fighters on scholarship to Australia in April for three months, one of whom was Sepik's very own, Mark Sai of Kadowar island.

East Sepik will send a delegation to Chimbu in March for the National Titles.
From the national titles, Mr. Nandex said PNG will send 15 fighters to Spain in November to compete for professional boxing.

Nandex flew out of Wewak early Tuesday morning to Port Moresby where he was expected to sign a new job contract with Exxon Mobil, developers of the LNG project this week.

He resigned from professional kick boxing this year sighting "no right and suitable candidate in my division to contest the belt I am currently holding..." as the primary reason. At time of resignation, Nandex have fought 49 professional fights with five losses and 44 wins. He successfully defended his world title seven times the latest being a 18 seconds TKO world record.

Envoy's PNG connection

From among his long list of tasks, Ian Kemish is also here to brush up his Tok Pisin.

IAN Kemish sits on a couch in the Australian High Commissioner's residence on Touaguba Hill. Seven meters from where he sits is a balcony which offers a magnificent view of Fairfax Harbour, dotted with vessels. 

Straight ahead, the Napa Napa oil refinery, a testament to Papua New Guinea's development. To the right lie the Motuan villages of Hanuabada and Tatana and to the left downtown Port Moresby, a hive of activity.

Ian was appointed Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea on 12 January 2010, but his first 'posting' to PNG was as a four year old in 1965.

"A lot has changed", was Ian's response to a question on whether he has noticed a difference between PNG today and the PNG of his childhood.

"There has been a lot of development and economic growth, especially over the last year or so. The population has changed - increased - but I have to say that I notice more the things that are the same."

"The people are the same. Papua New Guineans are both gentle and astute, an attractive combination which I remember very clearly.

 "Growing up here makes me no expert in modern-day Papua New Guinea - I have a lot to learn - but it did give me a lasting affection and respect for the people," Ian says.

Ian first came to PNG when his father took up a position with ELCOM, now known as PNG Power. This job took Ian and his family to Lae - where Ian's younger brother was born - Rabaul, and Port Moresby. During his last two years in PNG, Ian's parents worked at the University of Papua New Guinea, where his father was in charge of stores, transport and housing, and his mother was secretary to the Vice Chancellor. A thirteen year old Ian and his family left PNG in 1973, but as Ian grew older he continued to treasure the memories of his childhood in PNG. He missed climbing trees and running wild. He especially missed the freedom of his shoe-free days at Waigani Primary School.

"PNG was a colourful, warm and friendly place, and when I went back to Australia I missed it, and looked back on it as where I came from," he says smiling.

He looks relaxed, happy to be back in PNG, and very much at home.

Ian's wife Roxanne tells how for 30 years she has listened to her husband's stories about his PNG childhood. Ian has been back three times since 1973. The visits were work-related and short, and he's pleased to be here again for the 'longer haul'.

Before his posting to PNG, Ian was Australian Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, a position he held from April 2006. Prior to this, he was First Assistant Secretary, International Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. His overseas service has included postings to Vienna and Brunei, and he has also worked on secondment with the New Zealand Ministry of External Relations.

After Berlin, Ian and Roxanne felt the timing was right for the move to PNG, and pushed hard for it to happen.

"The Australian High Commissioner to Port Moresby has always been regarded as one of the top Head of Mission posts that Australia has, and I felt ready for it. The fact that I grew up here made the appointment a little more special," Ian says.

They add that this is their first posting without one of their two daughters - both university students in Brisbane - so the proximity of Port Moresby to Brisbane was also appealing.

"But the main reason we wanted this posting was the work, and making a contribution to a country that Ian has such a strong connection with," Roxanne says.

Ian believes the current Papua New Guinea-Australia relationship is in very good shape. "The overall tone of the relationship is a very positive one at the moment," he says.

The visits by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to PNG and the visit by PNG Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare to Australia in recent years have contributed enormously to the relationship.

"We have quite a lot going on now. It's a big agenda. I think that we will see further positive change," Ian says.

He adds that PNG's economy stands to grow significantly and Australia is absolutely delighted for PNG that it was able to attract investment in the PNG LNG Project. Ian is equally as delighted that he'll be able to contribute towards the strengthening of the two countries bilateral relationship.

Roxanne listens patiently to her husband. Molly - the couple's black cocker spaniel - is happily stretched-out at her feet.  Coming from Berlin - their last posting - to PNG was very different for Roxanne. Unlike Ian, this is her first time here.

Dr Gelu and his political insight on PNG

A SCHOLARLY book titled Pacific Ways: Government and Politics in the Pacific Islands which was recently published by the Victoria University Press (2009) has been highly recommended for use in Papua New Guinea schools and higher learning institutions. 

One of the contributors from PNG is Dr Alphonse Gelu. Dr Gelu who was at the University of Papua New Guinea (now at the National Research Institute) was invited by Dr Stephen Levine, Professor of Political Science at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2006 to contribute a chapter on the politics of Papua New Guinea.

The chapter on Papua New Guinea looked at the system of government; elections and political parties; the constitution; and provincial governments. The chapter looked at each of these processes and institutions and how they have evolved over time. The information on Papua New Guinea is useful for those who are interested in gaining some knowledge on the politics of Papua New Guinea since 1975.

Dr Gelu who has always had a keen interest on the politics of Pacific Islands states teaches a course at the University of Papua New Guinea called South Pacific Politics for more than 10 years. Many of his former students (including Solomon Islands) now work in the public service, some in areas of foreign relations and security and they benefited from the materials and subjects covered in the course.

He also assisted to teach a course called The Political Economy of the South Pacific with Dr Tupeni Baba, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education in Fiji at the Pacific Center at the University of Auckland in 2002. Dr Gelu himself has a wide knowledge about the politics of each island states apart from Papua New Guinea.

In giving an overview of the book, Professor Levine wrote that the literature on the politics of the Pacific islands remains much slimmer than for other regions. The number of island states and territories, and their distance not only from one another but also from Europe, Asia, and the Americas, are obstacles to an ongoing familiarity with political developments or a basic knowledge of government institutions. It is perhaps not flattering to Australia and New Zealand sensibilities to note, furthermore, that ignorance about the politics of these two countries is not much less widespread than for other Pacific Island countries.

The book aims to redress this balance by providing the kind of information for the Pacific that is readily available for nations in other parts of the globe. This volume provides expert chapters examining the politics of each Pacific Island state and territory, discussing its historical background and colonial experience, its constitutional framework, political institutions, political parties, elections and electoral systems, and problems and prospects. The book is comprehensive, covering all regions - Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia - and all countries, irrespective of their size or political status. The states and territories range in size from Australia and Papua New Guinea on the one hand, to Tokelau, Rapa Nui? Easter Island, and Pitcairn on the other.

The region comprises 16 independent states, each a full member of the Pacific Islands Forum. These countries include: Australia and New Zealand; Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji - members, as well, of the Melanesian Spearhead Group; Tonga, Samoa and Tuvalu; Niue, and the Cook Islands, self governing in free association with New Zealand; Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau (Belau), independent in free association with the United States; Kiribati and Nauru. French Territories are also include; French Polynesia (Tahiti), Wallis and Futuna and New Caledonia. United States territories are also included American Samoa, Guam Northern Marianas and other smaller islands which include Pitcairn, Easter Island/Rapa Nui and Tokelau.

The Pacific remains an interesting region of the world moving away from that label of being a paradise with coconut threes and beautiful women swaying with their grass skirts to a region that has a part to contribute to the changing global environment. The process of globalization has made the world smaller and the Pacific is now an integral part of the globalised world.

It was the purpose and ambition of this book for there to be a chapter written about the politics and the institutions of government of each states and territories, and this has been achieved. The authors, individually and as a group, are well qualified to describe, discuss and analyse the government and politics of each of these countries. Each has had extensive experience with their subject matter, either personally or professionally.

Most of the authors are scholars, from a range of disciplines including political science, law, history, and anthropology. Not all of the authors are academics; the group includes diplomats, politicians, public servants (and part-time advisors) and a journalist. Some were born in the Pacific; others have lived or worked in the region, on particular islands, for considerable period.

The book would be an important text for students in undergraduate and graduate courses dealing with the Pacific region - its politics and international relations. The information on the politics and political institutions of the Pacific will also be useful to Pacific policy makers and to others with professional interests in the island states and territories of the Pacific.

The result of this book is an informative and useful set of analyses of Pacific political experience - political institutions, constitutional processes and electoral systems - providing a basis for evaluating the quality of governance, and the durability of commitments to constitutionalism and democratic values. There may once have been a singular Pacific way - or at least the ideal one.

As the chapters in this book demonstrate, however, the details of governance around the Pacific are perhaps now better described as Pacific ways, diverse approaches to the fundamental problems, common to all nations, of how a society is to be organized for the purposes of responsive, representative government.

Melanesian Brotherhood

Missionaries meet new challenges in re-evangelisation

PIVO is a two day walk from Kerema or an eight-hour dinghy ride up the Vailai and further up the Lohiki river.
Here in this isolated part of the Gulf province is situated an Anglican mission station.  There is no priest but the parish is served by four men who are doing so out of their love to serve God and other persons. By living and working there, they are living out their vow to own nothing of their own (poverty), remain unmarried for as long as they are there (chastity) and always obey their superior (obedience).

Obeying the superior therefore includes going anywhere in the country they are assigned - which is where they are in this very isolated part of the Gulf province.

At Moreguina, in the Abau District of Central Province, another group of such missionaries are at work.  There the parishioners are mainly mountain people of Milne Bay Province's Agaun area who have come to settle and work on the rubber plantations on the lower plains of the neighbouring Central Province.

These missionary men are members of the Melanesian Brotherhood, a ministry of the Anglican Church that was founded in 1926 in the Solomon Islands.
 (ABOVE: Brother Campbell Yakawa and Brother Matthias Onderi at the ATS Settlement house in Port Moresby.)

The founder is Ini Kopuria, a police sergeant in the Solomon Islands police force then.  In 1937 he traveled to the West New Britain Province of PNG with a view to establish a "household" there for a team of his brothers.  The church in the New Guinea Islands was then under the Church of Melanesia whose headquarters was in the Solomon Islands.

The diocese of Papua, pioneered by Englishmen Albert Maclaren and Copland King had its headquarters at Dogura, Milne Bay Province.  Dogura then was established under the Australian board of missions.
The Melanesian Brotherhood were to establish a ministry outpost at Kandrian in West New Britain but the Second World War forced the missionaries to abandon their plans and head back to the Solomon Islands.

In the forced retreat, the Catholic missionaries also stationed in the province at that time urged the lone Anglican priest there to accompany them to Vunapope in East New Britain.  The Anglican missionary refused and instead gave a chalice, stole and cassock to his friends telling them, "take these and keep them to remember me."  He remained and was martyred by the Japanese.  His grave at Vivilo, Kandrian is another sad reminder of that phase of missionary activity in the region and country.

Years later Bishop David Hand approached his counterparts in Solomon Islands to send brothers to NGI and then to Madang, Goroka, Siane Valley, Jimi and Simbai.

In a typical first encounter in a Highlands village, two of these Melanesian brothers were captured and tied and the chief was called to determine their fate. 

In a miraculous twist in events, the village chief told his people not to kill as the two men were there with good news.  Whatever that good news was, he was to know it only later on through the ministry of the two "captives."

The man who told this story, Brother Matthias Onderi, attributed the survival of the brothers to an intervention of God himself.

From that incident on the brotherhood was quite successful in converting hitherto heathens of parts of Eastern Highlands, Jimi in Western Highlands and the neighbouring Simbai area in Madang Province - at the behest of the last Archbishop Sir David Hand.

Today, the ministry of the Melanesian Brotherhood, has largely moved from one of converting heathens to one of urging people to return to the mother church.

According to Brother Matthias, "in this new millennium there are no longer any heathens to convert.  The brotherhood's ministry has shifted from evangelization to re-evangelisation."
Port Moresby diocese bishop Peter Ramsden agrees.  He said a lot of people have drifted away from their upbringing in Christian families.

For such people, the Anglican community has a specific petition to God that is recited during Mass:  "We pray for those who have lost you that they may find you again."

Asked if he would be just as happy if they "found Him again" outside the Anglican circles, he said because of their Anglican upbringing, it would be better if they returned to the mother church.

This is where the Melanesian Brotherhood comes in.  "MBH helps Anglicans come back to the church," Bishop Peter said.  Bishop Peter said many Christians have left the church through the growth of urban centres. There are many challenges to the church in the modern world of consumerism and secularism.   The growth in cities and modern lifestyles are challenging to Christian and Melanesian values, the bishop points out.

Basing on his experience of working as a priest in Jimi and Simbai, Bishop Peter said church provided schools and health centres were better run when the whole community cooperated through the agency of the one faith, be it Anglican, Catholic or whatever.  When later on other faith groups ventured into such areas, schools and aid posts began to suffer neglect and lack of care because of divisions or reduction in the number of willing hands to help maintain them.

Even social issues such as urban poverty and HIV/AIDS are great challenges the church need to face up to. 
The Melanesian Brothers are a self-sustaining ministry but there is also a group of laity known as companions who pledge to support them financially and materially.

Brother Matthias said in most places where there are households of brothers there is ample gardening land for them to work on for survival.  Their local chapels and their companions do provide regular support as well.  However, he noted with concern that support from companions has been on the decline, due to various reasons including perhaps the high cost of living for urban dwellers.

The Port Moresby diocese has a house of brothers at the ATS settlement, better known as the Oro Camp.  There are four brothers led by a senior.  One of them is young Cambell Yakawa who had recently completed a three year training for his work.

In an urban settlement area, the brothers' work involves visiting youths, families and encouraging people with special needs such as addicts and the destitute.

Brother Campbell has been assigned to the Aipo Rongo diocese and will be serving at Simbai, Madang Province.

The past few weeks most of the brothers were in conference at Popondetta.  When they return from there to their posts such as Pivo and Moreguina, young Campbell will travel to Simbai to start a new mission life away from his Milne Bay home.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Man of God remembered on Moukele

HISTORY was retold of a great missionary who gave his time serving the United Church at Mabuduan village along the coast of the mainland of Western Province.

At an occasion to mark the placing of the headstone for the late Rev. Ilaila Pokana at Moukele (Fisherman Island) last weekend, guests who included his adopted clan members from the Umumere clan of Mabuduan village were on hand to witness and celebrate his good deeds.

Late retired Rev. Ilaila Pokana was born on 30th April, 1943 to Pokana Kila Verave (father) and Kila Kanama Pokana (mother) and was the eldest in a family of eleven.

The family was from the Poerupu clan of Hula but migrated to Daugo Island, commonly referred to as Moukele or Fisherman Island. ('Mou' means island and 'kele' means separate).

Retired Reverend Ilaila Pokana passed on to be with the good lord early last year on February 2.
At the time of his retirement from pastoral duties on January 7, 1995 the late Reverend Pokana had served the United Church with distinction for 33 years starting as a young pastor, then missionary and evangelist.
Ilaila Pokana took up the call to serve as a trainee pastor whilst working for the Government in the early 50s and 60s when the Methodist London Missionary Society (LMS) missionaries came to Papua (Southern Region).

His first posting was to Samarai, Milne Bay Province at the Five Bay Pastoral College accompanied by his young wife, Notau. It was in Samarai where his eldest son Puri was born in 1966. 

Then in1967, Ilaila took up studies to become a missionary at Rarongo Theological College in Rabaul, East New Britain Province. He and his wife were then officially married into the church. 

From Rabaul, the late reverend was posted to the Central Province to serve the Kadeboro Circuit of Rigo after the amalgamation and inauguration of the Methodist Church (LMS) to become the United Church of PNG and Solomon Islands at Rarongo in January, 1968.

Having spent two years in Central Province, Reverend Pokana and family were transferred to the Western Province in 1971 where he became the Daru Circuit minister.

It was in Daru that Reverend Pokana moved to the mainland at Mabuduan village to become their pastor and missionary serving the people and at the same time moving from village to village along the coast and inland of the mainland to spread the gospel.

At times he would be called to the nearby Torres Strait Islands of closets to the border of Western Province to conduct his pastoral duties as an evangelist while spreading the Good News.

Late Reverend Ilaila Pokana was adopted by the Umumere clan and was still regarded as a member until his death early last year on February 2.

It was at the late reverends headstone erection that his story was told as family members of the Poerupu clan gathered together to share food and pay homage to a great man of God.

The late Reverend is survived by his widow Notau and five children, Puri, Ole, Kila, Notau Jnr and Navu.
He was an active member of the Moukele community after his retirement and was very instrumental in establishing the Daugo Primary School now on the island where he also became the founding School Board Chairman.

The school currently is a top up school with classes from elementary to grade eight.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) harmful to our mothers


IN THIS article, I wish to draw your attention to another major sex related problem our sisters and mothers may encounter as a result of excessive and unprotected sexual behavior. 

I remember talking to you about cervical cancer and the relationship it has with the Human Papiloma Virus or HPV. Now I wish to expound on another medical problem exclusive to our beloved mothers and sisters. 

Well sex is good and is enjoyable as I've said time and time again.  But good things come with their foes.  Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) is very common in our country.  Each of the bacteria, protozoa, virus or parasite that is transmitted through sex has immense negative impacts on the lives of many families - especially husbands and wives in our country. One such problem that is common to the female population of this country is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or PID.

What is PID?
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is a general term that refers to infections of the uterus (womb), fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus) and other reproductive organs.  It is a common and serious complication caused by of some sexually transmitted infections, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea.

PID can damage the fallopian tubes and tissues in and near the uterus and ovaries. PID can lead to serious consequences, including infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy in the fallopian tube or elsewhere outside of the womb), and obscess formation and chronic pelvic pain.
How common is PID?

PID is a very common problem all over the world.  More than 100,000 women become infertile each year due to causes of PID.  In the United States alone, it is estimated that 1 million women experience an episode of acute PID. 

There aren't enough documents and research done to show how urgent PID is in PNG.  But as you visit clinics, health centers and hospitals, clinicians will tell you that PID is a very serious and urgent health problem in the country.

"Mothers come every day to the clinic complaining of abdominal pains. I just give them pain killers, because I only have that (medicine) with me," Jenny Huambi at the Gangalu Health Centre in Mananda, Komo district told me once.

"I even don't know if this are causes of STI or any other infections," this community health worker, who has been working in this clinic for the past 13 years said.

To shed some light into this particular disease, I wish to explore more to give confidence to our sisters and mothers who can easily access clinical services to serve their life from intimidations, confusion and motherhood.
How do women get PID?

PID occurs when bacteria move upward from a woman's vagina or cervix (opening to the uterus) into her reproductive organs.  Many different organisms can cause PID, but many cases are associated with gonorrhea and chlamydia, the two very common bacterial STIs.

Sexually active women in their child bearing years are most at risks, and those under age 25 are more likely to develop PID than those older than 25.  This is partly because the cervix of teenage girls and young women are not fully matured, increasing their susceptibility to the STIs that are linked to PID.

The more sex partners a woman has, the greater her risks of developing PID.  Also a woman whose partner has more than one partner is at greater risk of developing PID, because of potential to exposure to more infectious agents. 

Women who douche may have a higher risk of developing PID compared with women who do not douche.  Research has shown that douching changes vaginal flora (organisms that live in the vagina) in harmful ways and force bacteria into the upper reproductive organs from the vagina.
Some signs and symptoms
Symptoms of PID vary from none to severe.  When PID is caused by chlamydial infections, a woman may experience mild symptoms or no symptom at all, while serious complications/damages is being done to her reproductive organs.  Because of vague symptoms, PID goes unrecognized by woman and their health care providers about two thirds of the time.  Women who have symptoms of PID mostly common have lower abdominal pain.  Other signs and symptoms include fever, unusual virginal discharge that may have a four smell/odor, painful intercourse, painful urination, irregular menstrual bleeding and pain in the right upper abdomen (rare).
PID is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often subtle and mild.  Many episodes of PID go undetected because the women or her health care provider fails to recognize the implications of mild or non specific symptoms.  Because there are no precise tests for PID, a diagnosis is usually based on clinical findings.

Therefore, this means that every woman or girl under the age of 25 should report or tell her health care provider of anything unusual that she detects about her personal experiences and life - especially anything to do with her sex life.  It is very important that young girls should prevent themselves from the gonorrhea or chlamydia diseases.  These two STIs cause PID.  It is very important that girls and mothers who have unprotected sex, sex without a condom should see their doctors or health care providers to get medications that will demise the PID development. Gonorrhea and Chlamydia destroys the reproductive organs that can lead to infertility and chronic pelvic pain.

Husbands who are not faithful to their wives or girlfriends and have multiple sexual partners should check themselves for STIs and get treatments before they should have sex with their wives or girlfriends.  This is being responsible and caring.

Remember readers, sex is beautiful so enjoy it with your hubby. God made it sacred and enjoyable for two people (a husband and wife) to enjoy the ultimate gift of marriage.

It would be sinister to plunder around, contract a virus from someone and download it onto an innocent person allowing her/him to suffer unknowingly. This is really unethical, inhuman and unchristian.

Again remember, all STIs except HIV have medication.  Go quickly to the health centre, ask the nurses and get treatments. 


No mountains too high

Aussie Garry Joske walks Kokoda Track to bury the pain of a departed wife

LAST year alone, two Australians lost their lives whilst walking the famous yet treacherous Kokoda Track.  Several others died whilst trying to access the track by air and walk into Port Moresby.

Thousands of others make it through each year. Some have walked this arduous track once. Given its rough and rugged terrains, very few of them walk this track twice.

Whilst some walk this track to re-live the memories of hardships Australian 'chocolate soldiers' have endured during the Second World War, others walk for fund raising activities for different causes back in Australia whilst others walk to earn fame. The latest to walk for fame is an Australian paralympian.
But there is one Australian who stands out from the rest.

Please meet, Garry Joske. From Gold Coast in Australia, Garry has walked this treacherous journey from Kokoda into Port Moresby not once, not twice, but five times! He has climbed the highest peaks of Isurava and Efogi, crawled across fast flowing rivers over trees that were partly washed by rivers, walked the muddy tracks in torrential rain, or simply camped in an open fire in the dark starlit nights while forest insects sang choruses and lullabies as he slept. 

 (Right-Garry and friends on the Kokoda track

Whatever the encounters may be, Garry enjoys it all with every step he takes either up the muddy and slippery track or across the fast flowing rivers.

And along the way, he has taken a good collection of pictures of the flora and fauna of Kokoda track, its panoramic views and simply the people and places across the track which once saw the bloodiest conflicts in theatres of war.

He has done it alone with a handful of nationals on two occasions. When word spread through his network in Australia that Garry was coming back for another walk, several people joined him. And from Port Moresby, they flew into Girua airport in Popodetta and via a truck into Kokoda where they begin their excruciating walk across this famous track.

"I have made a collection of all the stick I used when walking along the Kokoda Track. Every time I come and walk the track, I go home with a stick," Garry said once.

These sticks are his self awarded trophies for his bravery along one of the world's most hazardous tracks. He has already five and there is still room for more if this Gold Coast adventurer is keen on taking on the peaks of Isurava and Efogi again.

"I walk because I have been very hurt. Walking this challenging track takes away the pain in my heart," Garry told this writer after his last trip in 2004. Garry was heart broken after his wife for many years divorced him and opted for the man many EMTV viewers in the late 1990s will know only as The Man from the Snowy River. Garry has gone down on bended knees and begged his wife to return but she didn't, forcing Garry to take the challenges of the excruciating Kokoda Track.  And when he walks, every step he takes, and every breath he inhales, Garry misses his wife so much.  He made no secret when he wept openly after his last trip recalling those merry moments they both shared prior to her departure along the track.

So this was his reason for taking on Kokoda Track a record five times. Has anybody beaten that record yet? Over to your TPA.

Many thanks to Jessie Lapou, formerly Post Courier reporter for filling in the gaps. And congratulations to Garry for becoming a grandfather. Now memories of Kokoda will live on.

Reaching the highest bars

A MOTHER of nine children, a diploma in nursing, post graduate qualification in nursing and mid-wifery and a law degree without a blemish qualifying her to be admitted to the bar this week. 

How does that sound? Pause for a moment and take it in - how Margaret Asinumbu Kimala juggled motherhood and a diploma in nursing, a post graduate qualification in nursing and midwifery and within a span of less than nine years, a Bachelor of Law admitted to the bar to practice law in national and supreme courts of PNG.

Thanks a thousand times to her loving husband, Joe Asinumbu, a graduate Civil Engineer with the National Department of Works. Unlike many men in PNG who do not back their wives to reach new heights in their career, Joe Asinumbu is of a new breed of a man.  He had every confidence in his wife's abilities to succeed in whatever field and backed her all the way through to attain double degrees in two different professions.

After 15 years of service to the health department, Margaret's husband encouraged her to go back to school to upgrade her qualifications. With his backing, Margaret has not looked back since then. In 1997, she completed her studies in mid-wifery at the College of Allied Health Sciences at the UPNG's school of nursing. She again went back for studies in nursing education and graduated with a diploma in 2001. Four years later, she walked down the podium of UPNG's School of Medicine with a Bachelor in nursing and this week, a Bachelor in Law.

"When I saw my wife doing well in her studies, I knew she could do even better. She has shown a lot of potential in excelling," said her supportive husband of many years.
Potential identified, Joe made sure his wife is free of all motherly responsibilities. He took a few of his relatives including his own mother to take care of all the household chores whilst his wife concentrates on her education.

"Through my husband's undying support, I made it through.  And I really thank him for that," said Margaret with a smile.

When lovers take Valentine's Day off to tell each other how much love they share between them, well for Joe and Margaret, there is no need to speak.  Actions speak louder than words. Both of them have spoken volumes by their actions more than words - Joe gave the opportunity for his wife to attain the much envied and sought after profession in life and for Margaret? Well she gave nine beautiful children to the man of her life. Their eldest son is 18 years old now studying at UPNG whilst the youngest is 2 years old.

Margaret has been working towards a cause. During her years as a nursing officers and health educator, she has come to see unnecessary loss of lives as a result of professional negligence by medical practitioners.  And she will be out to ensure the standard of medical practice is lifted.

"Being a nurse and a lawyer at the same time, now I know what should really be done to avoid professional negligence.

"I am now in a better position to advise and advocate on issues of professional negligence of my colleagues in the  medical profession," Margaret said.

Margaret hails from Teremanda Village, in Wabag, Enga Province. She is married to a loving Western Highlander part Sepik.

She was described by the Director of the legal training institute at the admission that Margaret "was one of the senior woman at the Institute.  She has shown a lot of maturity and perseverance."