By MATHEW YAKAI
GABRIEL Andandi, a former teacher and today a successful businessman may not resemble Microsoft guru, Bill Gates or former USA President, Bill Clinton with their foundations helping the unfortunate in billions of dollars.
But the son of Lapun Andandi, an ordinary Papua New Guinean farmer, from Tambul district in Western Highlands has helped more than 2,000 students by paying their school fees since 1997 and continues this year. He has spent more than half a million kina to date.
Lapun Andandi sold peanuts and vegetables to earn the little money he could that saw his son, Gabriel achieve higher education and today is a successful businessman. The elder Andandi’s hard work and sacrifice today benefits those known and strangers, both in PNG and abroad.
Andadi was an ordinary Wambul village boy, attending Kerepia Primary School in Lower Kagul, and eventually worked with UN after obtaining a masters degree in human resource management in Australia.
Clocking 20 years of working in both the private and public sectors, he then established Norman Finance Ltd, a soft loan company in April 2008.
Today Norman Finance Ltd has 26 branches with more than 80 staff and is the only wholly owned PNG finance company covering the entire country.
Andandi launched his Fiji branch in Suva on June 16, 2018 with the aim to cover the entire Fiji market and help pay the school fees for Fijians like what he is doing for PNG students.
Since 1997 under his Tambul-Nebilyer Tertiary Student School Fee Initiative Andandi supported more than 2,000 students from Tambul-Nebilyer and other provinces attending tertiary institutions, technical colleges and others, studying throughout PNG and overseas including China, the Philippines, USA and elsewhere.
“I started paying students school fees since 1997. I was a teacher and hate seeing students leaving classes because of school fee reasons,” Andandi recalls.
This year, Norman Finance Ltd paid more than K7,000 for 11 students, five males and six females attending various tertiary institutions and vocational schools throughout the country, Andandi announced on Thursday Aug 16.
“I am proud that my company paid more than K7,000 in school fees for these Papua New Guineans. They are our future and my company promotes better education for our students.”
Andandi pays the fees under his motto, “A visionary leader to have an educated population”, which resonates perfectly with Martin Luther Kings’ historical “I Have A Dream” speech delivered at Lincoln Memorial in Washington before 210,000 people on August 28, 1963.
While King’s was a mission to seek justice for the America’s blacks, Gabriel’s school fee initiatives are to eradicate any restriction to the freedom of people to seek education, or work or opportunity of any kind, so that each may become all he is capable of becoming.
Andadi’s ideology is in parallel with former US Attorney General during President John F Kennedy’s term, Robert Kennedy when delivering a rousing speech to the National Union of South African Students at the University of Cape Town on June 7, 1966.
“We must recognise the full human equality of all our people – before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this not because it is economically advantageous – although it is; not because the laws of God and man command it – although they do command it; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.
“And this must be our commitment outside our borders as it is within.”
Andadi’s essence in giving to the needy in paying their fees is the ambitious spirit of confidence and trust ingrained by his father, who never went to school, yet believed his son would one day touch the hearts and souls of the most needy so they can break free from their psychological prison to realise and appreciate their true talents and potentials.
The people of Tambul-Nebilyer, WHP and the country truly benefit today from Lapun Andandi’s sheer investment in his son’s education years back.
Likewise, Gabriel Andandi is positive that when his Norman Finance Ltd grows in Fiji, he will help his Melanesian brothers and sisters.
On August 7, 2018, Norman Finance sponsored Fiji police women in one of their sports challenges with $1,100 (K1, 300).
The support is to make women in Fiji realise their hidden potential and talents through sporting activities where stigma on women and girls is predominant in Fiji and other Pacific Island countries, including PNG.
“We started our operation in June but as Melanesian brothers and sisters, I am here to support where I can as I normally do in PNG,” he told the Fijian police women.
“Once we have more clients and expand our operation to other provinces in Fiji, one of my primary community obligations is to support women, youths and those under-privileged and also community empowering activities including sports and education,” Andandi said.
He took his parents to Fiji when launching the Norman Finance Ltd, Suva branch.
Enjoying the trip to Fiji and seeing his son and businessman expanding to Fiji has definitely made his father proud.
Sadly, Lapun Andandi is now in his hospital bed upon arrival in Mt Hagen.
We appreciate that only God gives and takes lives. Our prayers are with Lapun Andandi at this time.
History is made through his son, Gabriel Andandi who is paying students school fees in PNG like no other person and company does. Lapun Andandi will leave behind a huge positive legacy.
That legacy goes well with former US Attorney General, Robert Kennedy’s fundamental political philosophy.
“Each time, a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers or energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistances.”
The Andandis are passionately sending that “ripple of hope” throughout PNG by paying students’ fees under their ideals and beliefs that PNG must have an educated population for the country’s prosperity.
- Mathew Yakai is a freelance writer. This article represents the opinions of MY Media & News Agency. For comments, email: [email protected] or text: (+675) 70747450.