By JAMES GENO KILA
BRINGING smiles to the vulnerable women, girls and rural farming communities with interventions that could improve their wellbeing is indeed gratifying to this humble and committed agriculturist named Allan Wahwah.
Consequently, Wahwah is known widely within the Ramu nickel/cobalt project impact communities, particularly amongst women and farming groups whom he had shared his valuable time to help. These rural communities stretch from the highlands in Kurumbukari to the hinterlands of Inland Pipeline (Maigari), coastal villagers of Astrolabe Bay to Basamuk.
As I am penning this story, this good friend and a former colleague of mine is somewhere in East Sepik imparting his farm management knowledge to rural farmers. I could not bid him a proper bon voyage as his departure to his ‘greener pastures’ was to many of us an utter surprise.
Wahwah, who hails from Pak Island in Manus was a senior officer in the community affairs department of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Limited in Madang.
Employee of the year
During his time he had set a remarkable feat with the company after been recognised as the outstanding employee of the year’ at three different times. It was because of his commitment and dedication to his work.
He told me that he felt humble but admitted it was a great honour to be nominated for a third time outstanding employee of the year, in 2012, 2015 and 2021.
“Being recognised and awarded for the third time as an outstanding employee of the year was a moral boost for me personally and encouragement for consistent performance,” he said.
Wahwah acknowledged his former boss and general manager of the community affairs department, Martin Paining and senior Chinese executives and his field officers and development stakeholders who had been part and parcel of his work.
“My focus and purpose during my almost 10-year service with Ramu NiCo was clear and that is doing wider consultations, initiate, plan, implement joint actions plans with other development partners, bringing smiles to our vulnerable women, girls and farming communities that could improve their societal wellbeing,” says Wahwah.
He also realised that it is challenging to do a job well in terms of resources allocation but the small but significant contributions that CA officers do as MCC representatives should always boost its community relations (that’s MCC’s gain) and enhance our fellow landowners (people’ gain)
Wahwah holds a Bachelor of Business and Management from the University of PNG, a Diploma in Agriculture from the University of Technology and a Masters in Leadership in Business Administration from the Divine Word University (DWU).
He has over 23 year field experiences in agriculture research and extension, plantation management, administration, project management and marketing.
Wahwah’s core values that have been guiding his behaviour are service, respect, team, creativity, commitment, compassion (wearing other people’s shoes) and responsibility.
“With a clear vision and goals both in workplace and home, I have always been guided by my values” he says
“I have always reminded and motivated myself never to lose sight of my goals/focus in whatever project or programs that I may engage in,” he added.
“That’s the secret to success is to maintain your goals, develop workable strategies to achieving clear goals, ensure resource capability matches your action plans and direct activities always toward goals realisation. Things that do not add value to organizational advancement should be identified, tough decisions made in friendly ways, sacrifice them and always direct actions towards results.
Before joining Ramu NiCo Wahwah worked as a plantation manager, coconut researcher and part-time mentor (Madang UPNG Open campus (2011- 2013) for Bachelor of Management (professional studies) and few growers’ cooperative societies in Madang.
According to Wahwah’s observation the current socioeconomic situations of the mine’s landowners is alarming in terms of their health, education, income earning opportunities, access to micro-credit schemes for MSME growth, housing and sanitation, food security and so on.
“We cannot change all their current situations, however, with the little efforts that MCC has been doing in agriculture extension and training, cocoa seedling distribution, rice seed planting material distribution and so on, and with growers chipping in their sweat and cash contributions, our landowners’ livelihood can be improved progressively and over long term,” he stated.
Wahwah said promoting development initiatives that are directed towards jobs and wealth creation and women and girls empowerment in our patrilineal societies through sustainable approaches has been challenging.
The change of socio-cultural mindsets from doing things on “ad hoc basis” in the informal (seasonal) sector to formal sector, encouraging business like culture, managing project funds (from royalty for instance) with accountability and transparency are few focused areas which he is focused on doing into the future.
“I strongly believe in MSME as the foundations to improve our country’s GDP, alleviation of poverty and enhancement of quality of life,” Wahwah stated.
Inspired by rural upbringing
What had inspired Wahwah to commit himself to helping rural communities is also his upbringing.
“I grew up in a SDA home where dad was a missionary from 1963 to 2000 in rural places in East Sepik, West Sepik, Eastern Highlands, Madang and Manus.
“I have many engagements with dad with rural church members and I have come to life this rural engagements. I guess it’s my upbringing and direct engagements with vulnerable and disadvantaged people that molded me to be who I am,” he said.
“Dealing with rural people, understanding their challenges, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths and using my experiences and knowledge to create small positive changes for their advancement socially or economically has been my motivation and inspiration.
“I love seeing people smile and saying thank you, not with money you but a physical smile brings me joy and that is my job satisfaction.”
Wahwah admires the Chinese management culture and work eth
Hatwok Mama group members talking to Wahwah and woman leade Ruth Kamai.
Allan Wahwah explaining to participants with illustrations.
ics and is inspired by the support and freedom to exercise his creativity, competency and contribution.
“There is no bosboi system where there is a supervisor monitoring all my actions and there is no scolding…. that’s the best workplace with MCC.
“Working with Chinese colleagues had thought me great lessons and values like respect for authority, savings and cost-consciousness in planning and actual execution of plans, transparency, good financial management, and accountability.
“It’s due to their upbringing that you could see uniformity in their behaviour. I admire their uniformity in language and use of their language and culture outside their country.
“They are very unique and PNG could learn from their MSME experiences if PNG is serious to cultivate and sustain dynamic MSMEs in this country going forward,” says Wahwah.
• James Kila works as a supervisor with the public relations section of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd in Madang.