By HELEN TARAWA
ROY and Helen Aihi had a unique courtship.
Roy, who owned a motorbike, would often take Helen on a date riding the rugged Woitape mountains in the early 1970s.
Their love blossomed and they eventually tied the knot on June 4, 1972 at the Fatima Catholic Mission Church in Woitape, Central.
Their marriage was a record for the Catholic Church in Woitape at that time, to be the first couple to celebrate their matrimony.
On June 4, 2022 the couple celebrated their silver jubilee of marriage.
Roy 70, and Helen 72, credited their faith as a major factor in keeping their marriage going for half a century.
Roy from Hisiu in Bereina, and Helen from Lese Oalai, Gulf, first met in Woitape in the early 1970s; he was a patrol officer stationed in the area while she was a school teacher. Their jobs, took them to Woitape separately where they served as civil servants and met.
Speaking at the 50th marriage anniversary celebrations, Helen who lived with Catholic nuns thought she would not be able to marry as she was practically living like a nun.
“I am privileged to be here tonight because the long way I came through, sitting here today some of you will not make it,” she said.
“I am delighted to be here with you all to celebrate the golden jubilee anniversary of Mr Aihi and I. It reminds me of the date June 4, 1972 when our marriage took place in the remote area of Fatima Catholic Mission Church, Woitape in Cenral.
“I wanted to run away; I couldn’t do it because I was living with the nuns and I was like a nun,” Helen recalled.
Helen said their courtship started at the beginning of 1972 and they married after six months.
“We walked side by side with God and we came out to be what we are today,” she said.
Roy and Helen have been blessed over the years with six children five boys and a girl, unfortunately one of their sons passed away.
From their children they have come forth 29 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Their wedding also set something of a record as the first one at the Catholic Church in Woitape.
“We were happy to be the first couple to have our marriage blessed in that church and that is special. I am happy that all my friends and family have gathered to witness this important occasion for my wife and I,” Roy said of Saturday’s gathering.
From Woitape Roy got a job with Finance Department as an accounting system officer so the couple relocated to Port Moresby.
His profession an accounting officer took him around the country and overseas.
Roy was eventually promoted to manager and helped set up all accounting system software in all treasury offices.
Roy’s friend George Guina who was a first assistant secretary in the department said Roy was a hard working officer.
Roy was a workaholic, one that did not want to leave any job incomplete.
Without formal qualifications, Roy was very intelligent and knowledgeable about information technology (IT).
“From 1993 we were the officers who introducing the PNG Government Accounting System (PGAS).
“We worked together to put the IT in the accounting system.”
All the IT network systems in the accounting system we worked together and I retired about the same time that he left.,
“Roy was special to us in the Department of Finance. He retired in 2016 and I retired the following year,” Guina said.
Another friend and former colleague at the Finance Department Lawrence Ouma from Uganda said he met Roy when he joined the department.
After working with the PNG Administrative College now Pacific Institute of Leadership and Governance (PILAG), he got an offer at the finance department.
“That is where I met Roy and later his wife Helen. Roy met an angel and stuck with her for 50 years and going onto many more years.
“We experienced life in many forms and maybe it was made up in heaven that I would come to PNG and meet the couple,” Ouma said.
He got the band to play as he sang the East African song Malaika (an angle) for Roy and Helen.
Helen on the other hand started her teaching career at Araimiri community school in Gulf before moving to Woitape.
She joined her husband to move to the city and taught at Hagara primary school in Hanuabada, then to Wardstrip primary and finally at Tokarara primary where she retired from.
She joined her husband in the city and taught at Hagara Primary School in Hanuabada and then at Ward Strip Primary School and finally at Tokarara Primary School up until her retirement.
She has a diploma in teaching form the PNG Education Institute and spent 16 years teaching and three years as deputy head teacher at Tokarara Primary School.
The Aihi’s 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated and blessed by Fr Don Sylvester of St John Catholic Church.
To complete the celebrations, the Aihis together with their families, gathered at the St John Catholic Church in Tokarara where Fr Don Sylvester blessed the couple’s marriage.