IN the last feature article I wrote, I actually accomplished that task with a university student who had described an interesting spot in our big backyard, here in Papua New Guinea.
Weslie Hamambi Rambaio wrote on social media about the interesting things he found about Karkar Island, in Madang, when he went there to do his rural practical training at the Gaubin Rural Hospital.
It was interesting to note too that there was a comment on Weekender’s online version of the story from someone who appreciated learning from that article. Particularly, he wrote: “Well done gentleman. Thank you for the nice story. I enjoyed reading it. Now I know about Karkar Island …”
Switching from one discipline to another
While I was gathering information from Rambaio about that article, I noticed something peculiar in that university student. He was a determined young man who had made some tough decisions in life to get to where he is now, and because of that I am writing this article to hopefully help other young people who are in the same situation as Rambaio.
Do you know someone who was once a bricklayer and is now a medical doctor?
Do you know someone who was once a geologist and is now a medical doctor?
Do you know someone who is a successful businesswoman but who was once a simple home economics teacher?
My answer to these three questions is yes. I can name people who are examples of those who were already working as professionals in a field but then decided to make a switch in their careers.
The fact is, we in PNG have many people who are like that, people who started off in one field or discipline but for some reason made a glaring switch in taking on another career altogether, as in switching from one discipline to another.
Pushed out, but not over
At the end of this year, many students will be accepted by different education institutions to continue their education.
Many others will be pushed out of the system. Some will try to get back into it, while many more will find a place in the employment sector, or go back to their villages to start working the land to support their families.
Rambaio was also a push-out of the system, however instead of accepting that as a defeat he upgraded his marks and applied again to get into mainstream education.
Education got him to move around
Rambaiao is from Sassoya, in Kubalia, Yangoru-Saussia, in East Sepik.
His father is a retired aid post orderly and his mother was a housewife. His mother passed away in 2000 while his father still lives in the village.
After completing his Grade 6 at Sassoya Primary School, he attended Kubalia High School (now Nagum Adventist Secondary School) to do Grades 7-8.
Then in 2003-2004, he moved to Kairiru Island to do Grades 9 and 10 at St Xavier’s High School. From the island, he came back to the mainland to do his Grades 11-12 at Passam National High School.
“After Grade 12, the system pushed me out,” Rambaio said. “I went to Lae, in Morobe, and upgraded my Grade 12 results at the University of Technology’s Department of Open and Distance Learning (Unitech DODL) in 2007.”
He then applied to do a science degree at the University of PNG in 2009, was accepted and in the following year he did his first year and went on to major in geophysics.
He completed his degree in 2014 after the long race.
Seeking employment after university
After university, Rambaio sought some form of employment.
“I did some part-time employment with TST Gerehu in 2014, after graduation,” Rambaio said.
In the following year, Rambaio tried his hand in teaching students and helping them with the knowledge he had accumulated while in school and university.
“In 2015, I joined the Institute of Christian Academy (a private school in Port Moresby) and did some part-time teaching there,” he said.
“While teaching, I saw an advertisement about Divine Word University offering a MBBS (medicine) programme, and I applied for that. I got accepted and I left ICA and took up studies there at DWU in 2016.”
For the medical student, life was not that smooth at DWU though.
“In my third-year of studies, I was on academic suspension for not doing well in obstetrics and gynaecology and surgery courses. I got readmitted in 2019 and did exceptionally well.”
Rambaio is in his fourth year of studies and should be completing the programme next year.
Why pursue medicine?
I emailed Rambaio and asked why he had changed from studying the forces in nature acting on physical earth or planets to pursue learning about the human body and diseases.
He said: “That thing that inspired me to take up this programme was actually to help people around me be happy, to live a happy and satisfied, free of sorrow and pain.
“It is also one of my childhood dreams to take up this programme.”
It so happened that when Rambaio entered UPNG as a first-year science student, his wish was to pursue medicine.
He worked hard in that first year and managed to score the required GPA (grade point average), however he was told that he was ineligible to enter medical school because he did not do a particular course, a course that was a prerequisite for getting into medicine.
“Because of that, I streamed to geophysics and studied that instead. But all the time I was studying geophysics, I knew that one day I would take up medicine.
“So, the advertisement about the DWU programme and me being accepted in a programme was a dream come true.”
Some things to help one relax
All is not reading textbooks and handing in lab reports for Rambaio though, he also has hobbies.
“My hobbies are hiking and exploring new places,” he said.
“Listening to and reading past historical stories are what I like. And, I like watching sports, especially soccer and rugby.
“I also like hunting, fishing and swimming in the river or sea.”
It was clear from Rambaio’s penning of some background information about Karkar (in the previous article) that he was indeed a student of local history despite studying the human body and how it is affected by diseases.
Life was tough, he kept moving
Something I thought about when I read Rambaio’s personal details was his will to get back on track in his education despite being turned away.
I asked him about that and he said: “When I got pushed out of the system in Grade 12, I knew I would upgrade. I have a strong mind.”
He said at an early age he was motivated too by his father, the aid post orderly, to value education.
Furthermore, he never forgot what his primary school teachers told him.
“My primary school teachers told me that to be self-reliant, you have to be educated,” Rambaio said.
“So, I valued those pieces of advice, from my father and my teachers, to continue to push on despite being pushed out by the system.”
His advice for readers
Rambaio likes sharing what he has learned with others, particularly those who are still in school.
While he was doing his practical training on Karkar, he and his colleagues took time out from their usual routine of work at the Gaubin Rural Hospital to visit Karkar Secondary School and speak to students there on health issues.
Rambaio spoke to the students on tuberculosis (TB), how it affects people and the treatment available to fight it.
I asked him what information he would like to pass on to readers and he said: “I would like our people, especially our generation of today, to utilise our Melanesian network of human relations to learn from the past, study the present and anticipate and work towards the future in our decisions and actions.
“Most importantly, get better education and find better opportunities for others who are unfortunate. In that way, we will be helping each other out and everybody will be financially independent and self-reliant.
“To achieve that goal, we need to properly develop our human resources and equip them with the right skills and knowledge.”
Rambaio also attributes his progress so far in life to his faith and prayerful habit: “One of the secrets in my progress in studies and life despite the challenges before me is that I pray to God every night before going to bed, and every morning before I start my day. I have been doing this since I was a child. This is the other main reason that keeps me going, that is apart from keeping in mind words and advice passed to me by my father and my teachers.”
- Thomas Hukahu is a freelance writer.