WHILE many in Papua New Guinea and around the world celebrated Christmas in every styles, the Papua New Guinea community in China is no exception.
At the Beijing embassy, PNG Ambassador to China, His Excellency John L. Momis and wife Elizabeth Momis hosted a Christmas gathering which saw the embassy staff with spouses and PNG students gathered for once in a year celebration.
A total of about 50 people gathered at the Ambassador’s residence on Monday night, 22nd of December 2008.
They were PNG students studying in Beijing, Staff of the PNG Embassy both Chinese and National and their spouses and kids, all gathered to celebrate Christmas.
The celebration started with singing of Christmas carols, and then followed by Ambassadors’ speech.
Ambassador started by thanking everyone for making themselves available to celebrate the special and great event in the history of the world, particularly, the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord.
He then thanked the Embassy staff, namely Lisa Gabina, Rose Zhang, Mr. Gau, Mr. Liu, Mr. Wu and others.
He expresses gratitude to his staff who tirelessly worked through difficult situation to make last year (2008) a success.
By saying difficult situation he explained that even though the embassy was under staffed, these few staff have contributed enormously.
He also expresses his appreciation and thanks to his wife Elizabeth Momis for her continuing support.
At the same time he recognizes and acknowledges the support the other embassy staff received from their spouses.
“Without the support of the spouses we couldn’t achieve all that we have achieved this year,” he said.
He went on to explain the tremendous team work, cooperation and collaboration that the embassy had experienced among their colleagues throughout last year.
Amb. Momis said, “In a small way what we have experienced is the cooperation and collaboration to bring about what the world is about and this is also what celebrating Christmas is about.”
He also thanked the students for being good representatives of Papua New Guinea in their various university campuses in China.
“Students, your very presence in the university you are studying fly’s the flag of PNG. It makes a significant contribution to China in cooperation and collaboration to improving the world we are living today.” Amb. Momis said.
He commend the students for taking the boldness to accept the Chinese Government Scholarship to come to China, leaving behind their family, friends and colleagues in PNG who in such a festive season like Christmas would normally have big celebrations and get together.
He encouraged the students that what they are doing right now is contributing to building a peaceful and better world.
When encouraging the PNG students studying in Beijing, Ambassador Momis used the example of Dr. Sun Yat Sen a brilliant political leader in China, who was often referred to as the Father of modern China.
Dr. Sun being educated in America and even hold an American passport, he never succumbed to the changes of America.
He came back to China and was instrumental in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and become the first provincial president when Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1912.
“If you students can emulate the spirit of Dr. Sun Yat Sen, you are here to learn new knowledge and wisdom to accumulate knowledge to go back and contribute to your country. China with billion of population to educate some million students is not as important as you these few PNG students.”
“You are very important here. You are indispensable to PNG development and cannot be replaced,” Amb. Momis said.
Recalling his high school days in Australia under the watchful eyes of the colonial authorities, he said, “I learnt this phrase “you are indispensable to PNG development”, when I was 14 years old studying in Australia with people like Sir. Henry To Robert, and John Kaputin.”
“During a luncheon with Canal Murray, he (Canal Murray) said to us PNG students in Australia, “Each and every one of you is indispensable to PNG development, you are more important than the Australians.”
“These words are real and have helped me a lot in my life’s journey. I now would like to pass on this same message to you PNG students. Work hard, be diligent and don’t be backward coming in searching for information,” said Amb. Momis.
In sharing his Christmas message he said, “Christmas is the time when Christians throughout the world celebrate the birth of Christ. Celebrating the Word of incarnate, second person of the Holy Trinity, God opted to become one of us.”
“Celebrating Emanuel who was born unto us.” God option that Christ took to pitch his tent among human beings (us). That is a great event. We are actually celebrating Christmas which is about human dignity, human values such as equal participation.”
“When God decided to become like man He lifted the role of man to a higher level. Men now become indispensable in building a better world that is why in PNG constitution, the second Directive Principles calls for equal human participations. “
“Man is no longer just an object but man has a right to quality of life. As Christians we can call upon the Spirit of God to help us make a better world. “
“Just like Jesus did when He read the scripture in the Temple on a Sabbath. Jesus Said, “the Spirit of the Lord was upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor, He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
“In this message Jesus is talking about Himself as a man and therefore is applicable to all man. Promoting respect for human rights and dignity and empowering everyone for equal participation in decision making process, that is also why we have this in PNG Constitution.”
“Christians by celebrating Christmas is about respecting human dignity. Who are we to say only the rich in PNG will have access to better health and education.”
“The constitution calls for equal participation for all citizens. To conclude, the son of God became man and by doing so lifted the human dignity of every man, therefore men are obliged to uphold human dignity,” Amb. Momis said.
Albert Tobby representing PNG student’s studying in Beijing and around China, thanked Amb. Momis and his wife for hosting the Christmas celebration.
“There is a vacuum in every PNG students studying here in China. That is the vacuum of longing for family and friends that we’ve left behind in PNG especially in such period like Christmas.”
“However this celebration at the Embassy with the embassy staff and their family members has filled in this vacuum. We are so thankful that the embassy continues to offer timely support that actually made our life here in Beijing more comfortable.” Albert said.
This article is published after Christmas but the essence of the article appeals to us today.
Thus, this scribe, as always, would appeal to all Papua New Guineans from all the corners to leave behind our past and move forward with great hopes and mission.
The world is changing at an alarming rate, particularly in enhancing people’s live.
In PNG, we should not succumb to our weakness if there is any. We should not listen and believe what our friends from other countries tell us, though they may be genuine. We must not believe that when few people are capable, most are below par.
If there is one thing we should be proud of then we must tell ourselves that after 33 years of political independence, what kind of society do we want our children to live and enjoy their lives as long as they can.
We must ask what kind of society do we want to see our sisters, mothers and wives live without the fear of being raped.
We must ask ourselves what kind of society we want to have where our brothers and sisters from other countries can live with us.
2009 is the year we must answer all these issues and questions, including others that have always bothered us in the past years.
With a strong leadership both in the political and bureaucratic level, this scribe believes that PNG which is tarnished for human ignorance like rape, murder, corruption,…will one day rise and become the real Paradise, with thousand tribes living harmoniously.
Note: This blog acknowledges Albert Tobby, a Papua New Guinea student in Beijing for contributing most part of this article.