By GYNNIE KERO
YOUNG mother Helen McKenzie left her home and parents back in Gumine, Chimbu, sometime in the 1960s and travelled to Port Moresby in search of a better life.
She had her first child when she was 16 years old.
Her relationship with her late spouse at the time was not the life she had anticipated.
Thinking she did not want to add more burdens to her already struggling parents, McKenzie came down to the nation’s capital.
She said her decision to leave home was made simpler as a male relative was already residing in Port Moresby as she could stay with him and look for a job.
Having only completed Grade 6, McKenzie was determined to get a job with a stable income for her and her four children.
She managed to get employed by the Department of Mining, now Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) in 2000.
In an interview with The National in Tok Pisin McKenzie said: “Joining MRA, I make tea for the managers, bring people in to see the managing director, make sure they are well-looked after.
“I am from Chimbu, Gumine district.
“I only completed Grade 6.
“My parents were struggling that time and couldn’t do much.
“I’ve always been interested in sports.
“In 1991, I ran in the South Pacific Games. From there, I also joined and practiced Shaolin Kung Fu including the Mining Minister Byron Chan who is in the other group.
“Afterwards, I went and looked for a job in the department.
“I was married but life wasn’t easy.
“I’m over 60 years. I have four children – two girls and two boys – and 12 grandchildren.
“I enjoy my work here at MRA”.
MRA managing director Philip Samar described McKenzie as one of the most trusted staff in the office.
He said despite McKenzie going past the age of 60, he could not let her leave the authority.
“I have kept her because her level of service is exceptional,” Samar said.
“You know it when she is attending to you, you don’t get it from anybody except special people like her.
“I’m not letting her go until my term is over.
“If she wants to stay, she stays.
“Otherwise, I will take her to the next organisation I go and work for.
“She’s the most trusted staff in the office.”
By GYNNIE KERO