John emerges at the top despite family hardship


JUNIOR John Ules Rabiv wept when he saw his fellow graduates celebrating with their families during the UPNG graduation day in April last year.
His parents and family who had sacrificed so much to see him graduate from law school could not be there to share the big moment with him.
“On April 7, 2018, I graduated from the university. My heart broke and I cried that day seeing everyone celebrating their achievement with their families. My parents couldn’t attend my big day because of financial problems we were facing.”
Struggles, challenges and sacrifices had been very much part of John’s life up to then.
John, 23, is the fourth eldest in a family of six born to John Ules Rabiv Senior and Elizabeth Sella. They come from the remote village of Amiten in Malala, Bogia district of Madang.
John’s dream of becoming a lawyer began in Grade Four. He used to watch his father and uncle debating with others over land ownership issues. He wanted to become a lawyer to deal with those land issues.
He breezed through primary and secondary school. But problems began when he was selected to study law at UPNG. His parents couldn’t afford to pay his fees. His dad was a plumber working as a support staff for the Malala Catholic School. His mum sold garden food to supplement the family income, although it was still not enough to cater for their children’s education.
John was registered as a day scholar. When he returned home for the holidays, he did casual jobs for the Malala Secondary School which agreed to pay half of his school fees.
“Life for me as a day student living far from home was not easy. I have some relatives living in the city but I was a bit hesitant to burden them as I didn’t know them too well.”
John at times bunked with students living on campus or slept in lecture rooms.
“I didn’t have a room to live in and study. So I usually do my school work and sleep in lecture rooms, many times on an empty stomach.”
At times he wanted to give it all up and return home. But a small voice inside always reminded him that a person who struggles would have an exciting story to tell later.
“When I was doing my final year, I was scared I wouldn’t meet the required GPA to attend the Legal Training Institute (after graduating from law school). I was facing too much. But with the grace of God, I was one of those selected to LTI.”
His problems continued at the institute.
“I had a problem with accommodation. My parents couldn’t afford if I were to rent. And LTI has no accommodation for students.”
His family agreed to make more sacrifices. His brother doing his first year at the Madang Teachers College withdrew from classes to allow John to finish his course. His two other brothers were still in grades 12 and 10.
“Life was very hard for me. My father would send me K50 once in a while. I always try to keep a tight budget because I know it would take two months before my parents would send money again.”
UPNG Catholic chaplain Father Joseph Wojem came to the rescue. He allowed John to stay at his residence to complete his studies. Finally John graduated from LTI on March 15 this year. This time dad was there to witness his big day.
John received three awards for being the top student in courses. He also received seven certificates of excellence.
He is now working for a law firm in Port Moresby which had offered him a job before he graduated.
“I want to encourage people who are struggling right now to take the struggles as a motivation. See what your parents are sacrificing for you and repay their hard work. Put a smile on their faces by successfully completing your studies.”
No doubt it had been a long tough road but John is glad he finally managed to achieve his dream – thanks for the most part to his parents.


  • This is a true son of Malala.. despite the struggles. He saw them as a stepping stone to what he can do for his dad and mom.. his success is truly the blessings of his parents and siblings sacrifices. Long live the Ules family.

  • What a story ..such highlights should be splashed on FB to encourage young people to strive for excellence and still maintain and uphold morals and ethics because of their hard work ..
    Beautiful story of a resilent young man ..
    Will make a good leader

  • What a story ..such highlights should be splashed on FB to encourage young people to strive for excellence and still maintain and uphold morals and ethics because of their hard work ..
    Beautiful story of a resilent young man ..
    Will make a good leader

  • Indeed, this is a very inspiring story. It is also emotional and I dropped tears too as I also come from such background. Weldone and God bless you in your future endeavors.

  • Thank God and well done. Congratulations on your success story for allofus to appreciate. Well done one more time Tarito. Once a Malala is always a Malala. School’s Motto- “Strive to Live”.

  • Very interesting story and I hope other students read it and do that as well.

    I am one of whose people like him. I was a grade 10 drop out. My parents worked hard but, did not do well in year ten. I never gave up. I joined the PNG Defence and served for ten years. After leaving and finding a decent job was very hard.

    I started a plant nursery and landscaping business in Vadavada settlement and after just three years. I got a Ausaid scholarship to study cert 4 in small business Management at Adelaide Institute of TAFE. After that, I got a long term scholarship to study for a diploma in Business Management at Victorian University of Technology in Melbourne. The following year I continued on doing a Degree in Business Management at the same uni.

    After completing my course, I went back to PNG (POM) and in 2011, I migrate to Australia in living in Melbourne now.

    Never ever give up because there is always going to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Thank you!

  • Congratulations, it’s your dream and your ambition to become someone like you now. My word of encouragement to is, All the best in your career life. Fear God and live your life with God which is more meaningful. You thought that you were going through struggles but God knew he placed a potential in you would drive you this far had the plan and purpose for you in life. Don’t get caught in the corrupt activities. Always give glory and honor to the creator. I know one day you will become best lawyer in the country. God bless.

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