MICHAEL D. Kapu is a total stranger to all PNG students in Great China. None of the students (including this writer) met or knew him.
Michael aged 25 is from the remote Magarima district of the rich Southern Highlands Province and currently pursuing his final year at Divine Word University (DWU) majoring Health Management.
Like any other ordinary students from unfortunate families, Michael’s hope for an education and a better future almost came to an end at the beginning of this year.
His parents, like every other villager in PNG are subsistence farmers who make ends meet by selling their cash crops, nor does he have relatives who earn salary.
His determined mother labored on tirelessly to sell vegetables at their local markets to earn some cash to save for Michaels’ education.
This had been going on till 2003 when Michael successfully completed his secondary education at Tari Secondary.
He was lucky to secure a space at DWU in 2004 for his degree program in Health Management but after completing first year in 2005, Michael could not continue his studies because of financial difficulties.
He withdrew from studies till end of 2006 as the little money his mum earned from rural markets where cash hardly flows could not sustain his studies.
Thus, Michael resorted to selling cigarettes and betelnuts to enable him to pass through formal education in the following year (2007) but he was exhausted all alone.
Nevertheless, this young man with the hunger for education pushed through all the financial hardships and this year supposed to be his final year.
However, he had insufficient funds to allow him for registration. DWU administration could not allow him and he had no choice but ready to withdraw from studies.
But February 19, 2009, 5:17 AM (Beijing time) is the date Michael will not forget.
This is the date that made the PNG students in China to dig deep into their pockets to give little they have for Michael to complete his studies.
Michael sent an e-mail to one of his e-email friends, Gene Drekeke Iyovo in China. They have not met before. Gene is from Asaro in Eastern Highlands.
They call themselves brothers because first, both are Christians and second, both are like minded to see PNG prosper with people of higher educational caliber and wisdom.
“… other students are busy with their studies but for my case I have not registered yet because I do not have enough fees,” Michael said in his e-mail to Gene Feb 19.
“It is already week four of the schooling year but am still hanging around the school to fill my withdrawal form. My expectations from people who have promised to pay my school fees have been negative and am lost for words.”
“Sadly, I will miss my HECAS and self sponsor again next year with more money than what I would pay this year.”
“I need only K4, 300. but nobody is able to help me and my parents could not afford as they are very poor and exhausted.”
“Bro, I would like to complete my degree but school fee is the pain in my neck.......I am running out of words but if you were working I would ask if you could help me some amount and register myself.”
“I have K1200. but that can not as the Uni wants full payment on the spot,” Michael wrote.
Gene, a young father with a son and wife to care for did not hesitate to help Michael. He even forwarded Michaels’ e-mail to all PNG students in China, including this writer.
Surprisingly, most responded with pledges to help Michael to see his dreams come true.
Not because they have surplus money to give, but all have been through the same experience as Michael.
And all believe that a successful education for Michael will have positive effects in his family, clan, province and the country.
With an intense e-mail exchanges, the students in China started making contributions.
Gene Drekeke gave RMB 500. The writer contributed RMB 200. Jeffers Teargun Heptol RMB 800. Albert K. Tobby RMB 400. Malcome Philip Taureka RMB 100. and Livingstone Hosea RMB 200.
Third Secretary to PNG’s Beijing embassy Liza Gabina contributed RMB 500. Totaled of RMB 2700 (K1, 051.) was sent to Michael through Madang Wespac March 14.
We never met Michael, or know him personally. But it was so amazing that we were willing to give the little we earned from our scholarship.
What truly touched us was that we had the hunger that Michael MUST complete his final year and have a decent future just like other Papua New Guineans.
We did not want him to feel being pushed out by the system that was established by men, and that can be bent and manipulated.
We sent e-mail’s pleading DWU administration to allow Michael to register while we did our contribution. God was good to allow Michael’s registration.
Gene said in an e-mail, “I know the feeling this young promising PNG intellect, I know the feeling his parents now, because I have been through that.”
“He will be denied his right to study, does not mean he failed, rather committed a crime against the state but will be denied his opportunity, the effort his poor parents have put through will bring dryness to their aspirations.”“I want to commit some hundred Kina to this young man, I do not care where he comes from, whether or not I know him. What I know is I Love PNG, and I love my people and I am giving because I am sowing for this great nation,” Gene said.
We gave with one mind and total peace in our heart. We believe that in a country like ours, we love each other very much despite our boastful 860 plus languages, ethnic diversity with different ideologies.
We are sure that as long as we remain human beings, the pains, sorrows, and excitements we go through are similar.
We have seen and experienced caring and sharing in PNG like the Aitape Tsunami where mothers, fathers, elderly, children, from known to unknown, mountains of Tari and Pogera to the isolated and ignored islands of Milne Bay gave the little they saved.
The street boys in Port Moresby pushed wheel barrow and raised funds, though they may have been looked down by our institutions as outcast. They had the heart just like rest of us.
Disasters have stricken PNG, and as a country, we stood undivided. In the recent case of Australia Bush Fire, families, children, workers, companies, the government and individuals gave little with their heart.
During the devastating earth quake in China last year, I was moved by footage of a little girl reaching out her hand while being trapped in the rubbles of the building. It touched me and I felt the pain just like the ordinary Chinese.
We are all human beings, despite our ethnicity, province, country or religion.
Our help towards Michael is for the good cause, because we believe in Michael just like any other students that PNG’s future is in our hands.
If this country is going down, then we as students today with like minds can stand together tomorrow, putting aside our differences to uphold the 5.6 million people’s interests.
We believe that Michael, one day with a better job will not buy guns for his tribe in Magarima to kill each other in tribal fights but will vie for a peaceful Magarima.
Our aim is simple. We believe in human resource for PNG. We want to stand as a nation and work together. We want to establish networks.
We do not want to see you as a highlander and I am a Morobean, or you as a Papuan and he is from Tari.
We believe in the nature of brotherhood, and sisterhood. Side by side we can help each other with the little we have. Give to the needy and the poor, by bringing smiles to his/her face.
Michael can finish his school, get a job and face the world. But what we know for sure is that Michael’s achievement will benefit his parents, tribes, district and the country as a whole, thus, we will all benefit.
If this is the idea all Papua New Guinean have then this beautiful country will grow into prosperity, with God’s hand already on this nation.
On behalf of the PNG students who helped Michael, the writer would like to thank the Chinese Embassy in PNG and the people of China for providing us the scholarship to study in China that is enabling us to see the importance of helping Michael, our beloved countryman.
If we help and care for each other and love others and even those who hate us then I can imagine that PNG will be a Paradise on earth where our sisters, wives and mothers will walk freely on the streets.
I can imagine how wonderful it would be to see our children grow in an environment without fear.
I can imagine that one day those fences around the residential areas in big cities will be pulled down.
I recall Richard Nixon’s speech in 1974 before he resigned during the Watergate Scandal.
“…the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”
Michael, you will reach that highest mountain tomorrow with Gods blessings.
Humbly, Michael sent an e-mail thanking all PNG students and Liza for the contribution.
“I can not say much because I am running out of words...I can hardly find a word to describe the effort, especially emailing guarantee letters to the administration and sacrificing your allowances for my education.”
You are all unique and this country, PNG needs you all for you all have the right frame of mind to move this resourceful nation forward. My heart is with you all....and God bless you all,” Michael said.
We here in China also wish Michael a successful completion of his studies, as we always do to others.