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Papua New Guinea

LIFESTYLE

Safety a concern at Gordon Market

By PAUL MINGA
THE New Zealand Government under Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has offered tremendous aid assistance to PNG in many ways including the recent construction of three-storey Gordon Market at a cost of more than K40 million under its aid programme.
The new state of the art city market facility is nearing completion and will open its doors to business. The market will be operational once the city authority is satisfied with everything and decides on a date it feels suitable for the official opening.
NCD Governor Powes Parkop, the city residents, local farmers and would be sellers and buyers are very much anticipating the grand opening of the brand new look Gordon Market.
In the meantime the Web Security Service personnel are keeping guards over the newly built facility while a skeleton construction workers are seen adding final touches to minor jobs daily.
My thank you goes to the New Zealand Government of Prime Minister Arden and the New Zealand High Commissioner to PNG including all tax payers in New Zealand.
This great assistance will go a long way in empowering the local farmers and resellers through SMEs activities. It will also create an avenue for city residents to conduct business for economic benefits for themselves and their families.
This tremendous aid assistance by New Zealand is appreciated by everyone.
But from the security point of view for this donor-funded market facility, the question now asked by almost everyone from local farmers to vendors now is, will the new Gordon Market be safe to the general public, students, women and girls?
Will it be safe as well at places outside the periphery of the new market facility including the Gordon main bus stop, shopping fronts, the streets and walkways?
That question now is in the minds of all city residents, students, women, girls, the local farmers and the expatriate community residing in Port Moresby. All who hope of come to the new Gordon Market need assurance of their safety for their valuables and themselves.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden greeting vendors inside the redeveloped Gordon Market last November. Arden was here for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Summit. –Picture courtesy of NCDC Public Relations.

The city r authorities should guarantee the general public that the hooligan syndicate operations will be no more at the new market.
If all thugs and hooligans are strictly monitored 24 hours with police and security surveillance – targeting eyesore activities – then this would be good news. If the new market and its surrounding areas are free of any criminal activities then this will be the fulfilment of the worldwide campaign by United Nations “Safe City for Women and Girls.
The dissemination of this message has been relayed through different media such as booklets, posters, stickers and other means taking the world’s attention.
Here in the capital city of Port Moresby every one of us must take pride in this new Gordon Market. We must have a sense of respect for it. It seems that some human beings cannot digest the United Nations campaign information and message of Safe City and Safe Market into their heads.
Those who are involved in anti-social activities for a living with their stubbornness will again scare away thousands of city residents, women, girls and the expatriates from coming to the new Gordon Market.
Most people are hoping for the past habits to stop and wish the opposite to happen. That is so that everyone, regardless of race or nationality enjoys the new market, a new atmosphere and a safe environment.
Gordon itself is a transit point for city commuters, students, shoppers, and the locals from the two provinces of Gulf and Central. In fact Gordon was not meant for syndicates of thugs and hooligans.
So let us now work together and make Gordon a safe place for shopping, transiting, working, selling, buying and in doing other business. We all must join hands with the relevant authorities and combat crime for a safe new Gordon Market and its surrounding areas.

Gordon bag snatcher remembers a kind cop

Andrew’s story

Forced by circumstance, the boy joined his peers in a life of petty crime and when he fell into the hands of the law, it was a kind policeman who saw to it that he was given a chance to mend his ways. Today, as an engineer, that youth is working in Melbourne, Australia.

By REBECCA KUKU

I WAS born in a village at the foot of Mt Giluwe. My parents named me Andrew after the Polish priest that always visited our village.
We had lots of food as mummy had a big sweet potato garden and a vegetable garden. She also had a chicken house and six pigs. Every night after dinner, we would gather around the fire drum in the centre of our bush house. Dad would play his flute and my sister and I would make our beds by the fire and listen to the sound of his flute as we drifted off to sleep. Life was good then.
In 1999, when mum was pregnant with my baby sister, dad was transferred to the big city and he promised that he would send for us once he had started work and found a home for us.

Another woman
But two years went by and soon we heard, dad had married a new woman. Mum was devastated but she was angry too. I was nine-years-old then and my sister was 10. Our baby sister was only a year old. Mum sold the six pigs for a total of K20,000. She sold all the chickens and the sweet potatoes too. A week after that, my mum, my baby sister and I flew down to Port Moresby to find dad. My older sister stayed back with my grandparents as she had already started schooling and mum did not want to disrupt her education.
It was raining when we arrived in the big city and the place was getting dark, it was the first time I saw the city lights, so beautiful and I was so excited.
Mum’s brother who was a taxi driver came and picked us up and took us to Erima where dad was living with his new wife and their baby. I sat in the car and held my baby sister as mum went in and fought with the ‘other woman’. Dad had not come home yet. Mum beat her up so bad and tore her blouse off, she dragged her out to the street just as dad drove in. I was so happy to see him, I wanted to run and hug him but I was scared he didn’t love me anymore.
He looked at me and my baby sister with shock in his eyes, tried to reason with mama but mama was so pissed. Soon a policeman came and took us all to the police station.
I was out in the car but they let them all out an hour later and all mama told me was that we would now all live together.
Mama accepted the woman as father’s second wife and we all went back to Erima. I wanted to run to my dad and hold his hands but I kept thinking that I wasn’t good enough for him. Maybe I wasn’t good enough so he went off and married another women who would give birth to a child better than me.
That night, I did not sleep, for all night long, I heard mama cry into her pillow. She didn’t make a sound and it was dark but I knew she was crying and it broke my heart.
After a couple of nights, dad’s new baby started getting sick, her condition got worse over the next couple of days and mama helped the other woman to take care of her. They took her to the hospital, but she died at just eight months.
Everyone blamed my mama, saying she poisoned the baby but it was soon revealed that the baby had died of the monkey sick. I had heard whispers about the sickness back in the village. My uncle said that it originated from monkeys but I later grew up to know that it was a sexually transmitted disease called Aids. My father and his new wife were both positive and my mum too.
The other woman was the first one to die, then my father passed away in 2005. They never went for treatment because they were too ashamed. Their bodies were flown back home for it was our customary law that no man, woman or child would be buried outside of the village.
My mum was sick too but dad’s sisters blamed her, they said that their brother (my father) did not have HIV/Aids, that it was my mother who had come down from the village with ‘malala’ and had eaten his heart.
There was a big fight and mum’s brothers came and took us away, I never got to say goodbye to my father or see the plane take his body back home. I was in grade five at that time, we continued to live at Erima, the house was run down and the toilet was broken but we had a home.
My mum’s sister forced mum to go to the hospital and soon she was on antiviral. Slowly she put her on weight again and started regaining her strength. When she was strong enough she started working for a sweet potato dealer at the Gordon market, she would sell the sweet potatoes for the dealer at the market and get paid K20 at the end of the day.

A life of struggles
Life in the city was hard, I watched my mum struggle to put food on the table for the three of us, buy our uniforms and stationery and at the same time buy herbs for herself with the K120 she made in a week. She also started selling money from some of her earnings.

The New Zealand government has funded the redevelopment of the Gordon Market which will be opened soon.

At the end of that year, we were told to contribute for the class party to mark the end of the school year. Mum said she couldn’t afford to give us money for the class party because she was saving money to buy our plane ticket back home. I was okay with it but my baby sister wasn’t she cried all afternoon and refused to eat her sweet potato. Her class had done a secret friend draw and she said she had to buy a gift as well in order to get a gift back. I tried to play with her and make her happy but her little sad face broke my heart and early the next morning I followed the boys from the neighbourhood to the Gordon market and we snatched a woman’s bag.
She had K146 in her bag, there were three of us so we paid 10 per cent to the mayor and split the remaining three ways.
I gave my share to my baby sister to purchase a gift for her secret friend and pay for her class party contribution. Soon it became a norm, we would snatch bags or pick pockets of people early in the mornings before school and late in the afternoon after school at the Gordons bus stop.
Mum never knew what I was up to. I told her I had a part time after school job and would always give the stolen money to her to help with food or other basic needs.
Sometimes I used the money to my baby sister’s shoes, or clothes or hair ribbons.
In 2007, whilst doing grade 7, I became confident and I ran off with a big woman’s bag. I passed it on to my friends before I was caught and beaten up so bad. I was admitted to the hospital.

Ashamed
My mum came in to the hospital after being informed. She was disappointed in me. And I felt very bad. I tried to reason with her that the people I stole from had more than us, and that I only stole from those who looked wealthy. But mum said she was so ashamed of me and what I was doing, she cried all afternoon by my bedside, as I laid on the bed, with one hand, handcuffed to the bed.
She said that she was sacrificing and struggling to ensure that I had an education and become someone and not a criminal and as she sobbed tears ran down my eyes as well and in my heart I knew I would never repeat the same mistakes again and hurt my mama.
After I was discharged, the police officer (God bless him) who had stood by my bedside and watched my mother and I cry, told me I was still young and that he hoped that I had learnt my lesson. He said that the woman had dropped charges after my mother apologised and repaid her money. It was December, and the courts were already closed so he released me at his discretion on the promise that every Saturday I would cut the grass in front of the Gordon police station.
We went home and that night mum cried all night, again she made no sound but I knew she was crying and it broke my heart.
I later learned, that mum had saved up enough for our tickets and we were supposed to go home that Christmas but she had used the money to pay back the woman whose bag I had stolen.
So the next day, I looked for a dealer and signed up to sell potatoes during the school holidays and continued to do so when school started but selling only before school, after school and during the weekends.
Years went by and whilst I was doing grade 12 at Sogeri National High, my sister who was doing grade 8 at that time called me and said that mama had died. After years of battling with HIV/Aids, she had lost the fight.
I was devastated but I remembered the promise I made to her before coming up to school that I would raise my baby sister if anything happened to her and that one day I would find my big sister and reunite with her. (After dad’s death, his family cut off all ties with us and my older sister was in dad’s village and we were not able to contact her all through the years.)
She had also made me promise her that I would never engage in any criminal activities or have extra martial affairs when I got married. We took mum home to her village in Mt Hagen, and though in the distant I could see Mt Giluwe I did not go home to my father’s land.
We buried her and I came back to complete grade 12, my little sister transferred to a school in mum’s village and completed grade eight there.
I was accepted to the University of Technology in 2013 and graduated in 2017. I now live in Australia where I work for a mining company, it’s been two years now.
My baby sister completed grade 12 in 2016 and now works with a local phone company in Mt Hagen. She’s engaged and will soon be married.
Last Christmas, to keep my promise to my mother, I went back home to my father’s home at the foot of Mt Giluwe to find my older sister.
It’s been 18 years since I last saw her, but when she came out of the bush house carrying a baby with two kids clutching her skirt, I knew it was her. I hugged her close and could not stop the tears as I recalled days long gone, carefree days where she and I played up in the mountains as mother tended to her garden or the times we both would cuddle under the same blanket in our little bush house to keep warm…and the sound of dad’s flute and the smell of mum’s baked sweet potatoes.
She never got to complete high school and had married early, it broke my heart. We were once a close-knitted family. I could not help but wonder would she have had a different life if father had not gone off to Port Moresby? Or if he had remained faithful? If our parents had not gotten Aids and died, would she be an independent women like my little sister was?
Part of me was guilty for we had left her behind when we went to the city and part of me was angry that her parents, our parents, had forgotten her. But that’s life, she now has six children at age 28.

There are good cops
Anyway, I’m sharing my story so that people can see that there are some good cops around. Cops who have a heart for kids. I could have been arrested and sent to a juvenile prison but the cop seeing my mother and I crying, decided to use his discretion to let me go on the understanding that I would do community work by cutting grass at the police station every Saturday.
It was supposed to be for six months only but I did it for a full year. And through that experience I learnt about taking responsibility for my actions and decisions.
If it wasn’t for my mum and that good cop, I would be just another thug on the streets of Gordon. Sometimes, you have to show love to people who have broken the law to help them get back on track.
I don’t know where that cop is today, I’m sure he has already retired but I want to say thank you to him and all the cops who cared enough to show a little love and kindness to little boys on the streets.

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