By MICHELLE AUAMOROMORO
AS Ipau Powaseu walked up the stage to receive her Bachelor in Tourism and Hospitality Management degree on March 15, she wished her dad was there to witness her big day.
Ipau, 23, from Mouklen village, Lorengau district in Manus lost her dad Powaseu Kisokau, a fisherman, when she was 10.
“Dad passed away in 2006. I was in Grade Three.”
Ipau is the youngest in a family of seven. She and her parents were in Port Moresby to attend the eldest brother’s wedding when her dad passed away.
“It happened so fast. To be honest, up to now, I still don’t know the cause of his death. What I can remember is that he started feeling sick one night so we took him to the hospital the next morning. He died that morning.”
Her mum Doreen Nigu Simon became the sole parent, helped by the elder siblings including an adopted brother.
“My mum always tried her very best to put something on the table for us. We lived in the village so we help her make coconut oil which she would sell at the town market. She used the money she earned to buy our basic needs.”
In 2004, Ipau entered Grade One at the Mouklen Elementary School. She moved to the Mouklen Primary School for Grade Three and stayed there until she completed her primary education.
In 2012, she was selected for Grade Nine at the Papitalai Secondary School which is a boarding school. She was a boarder for the four years of her secondary education.
“While at the school, I missed my dad even more especially during term holidays when the parents came to pick up their children. I wished my dad was alive to come and take me home too.”
But the thought of her mum waiting at home with a big smile and a hug would take away the sadness.
In 2014, a new subject was introduced at the school. It was Tourism. She took it up as an optional subject in grades 11 and 12.
“Tourism made me think of tourists. I said to myself that I want to be a tourist too. So I applied for the tourism and hospitality management programme at the Divine Word University. At the university, I realised that tourism was more than being a tourist.”
“ My wish is that when I work, I will take my mum to one of the overseas countries one day.”
Ipau was confident she would be selected before the selection list was out.
“My mum was so happy for me although I felt sad because I had to leave her back in Manus.”
On her graduation day in March, Ipau was happy to see her mum there in Madang.
“The smile on her face showed that she was full of happiness. Mum was even happier when I received an award from the Tourism Promotion Authority for academic excellence. She walked up to the stage and gave me a hug. I just wished my dad was there too to witness my graduation.”
After university, Ipau worked for three months at the National Airports Corporation in Madang under its airport ambassador programme. She is confident that she will find another job soon.
She often wonders why her dad had to leave them so soon. But she is thankful to God for giving her a strong mum who has brought her this far in life.
“My wish is that when I get a job, I will take my mum to one of the countries overseas one day.”