By LULU MARK
AFTER four days of walking through jungles, over mountains and across rivers, Garry Dabuai finally arrives at the Yoya Mountain in the Gumine district of Chimbu.
He has reached the main road leading to town. Then he pays K15 to travel on a public transport to Kundiawa town, the provincial capital.
The long journey takes Garry through villages where he spends the night. Or if he gets caught in the rain or flood, or if nightfall comes quickly, he builds an impromptu shelter to spend the night in.
He makes this trip two or three times a year to get his supply of what he calls “mini goods” for his small business back home in the remote Bomai village of the Karamui-Nomane district.
The mini goods includes basics items such as soap, cooking oil, salt, sugar, tea, rice, noodles, tinned fish and batteries.
“ I hope one day a road will be built to reach Bomai so that we can access better health and education services. We are too far away from town.”
“On a trip to get the supplies, I spend around K1,400 to buy goods, pay for the fare and pay the boys to carry my supplies from Gumine to Bomai. They get K25 to K30 each depending on how much load they carry.”
All the costs he recovers by marking up the prices of goods he sells in the village.
“I generally add K1 to the goods to make a profit. I make around K500 profit from the sale of goods on one trip.”
Bomai is one of the 27 wards in the Karamui local level government. Garry’s village is situated near the Bomai station where there is an airstrip, a school and a sub-health center. There are no roads. The only means of transport is by air. The planes seldom fly there, and they are mostly charter flights. A one-way ticket costs K280 – well beyond what the villagers can afford.
From Bomai, it takes five days to arrive in Kundiawa town and three days to get to Karamui station where there are canteens and where planes fly in regularly.
Garry, 28, is known as a small businessman in Bomai but he sees himself as “just another service-provider”.
“We have our teachers, health and church workers here with us and they need to at least have store goods available for them to buy. Everyone here is a subsistence farmer and our gardens have all the food we need.
“We have community markets on Mondays and Fridays. Garden produce is sold for 20 toea. So a K50 can give you a six-month garden food supply.”
It takes a while for people to make money so it takes four to six months for him to sell all his mini-goods.
He started off selling peanuts then made enough money to buy mini-goods to resell.
“My motivation is to provide a service to the people including government and church workers. It is not really about just making money.”
Garry is married to Sine. They have six children – five girls and a boy.
He completed Grade 10 in 2014 at the Poromel Technical High School in Gumine and returned to the village when he did not get an offer to continue his education.
“With the money I make from selling mini-goods, I hope to support my children in school. The school here is not good because teachers don’t come because of its remoteness. I hope one day a road will be built to reach Bomai so that we can access better health and education services. We are too far away from town.
But we do what we have to do to keep going. We call Bomai home, our only home. We always come back home from our long trips to town.”