By MELYNE BAROI
LAW student Manu Kawi, 27, had to put his university studies on hold to look after his seven younger siblings.
He needed to help his mother, who had brought them up by herself, take care of his three brothers and five sisters.
“It was tough but I had my eyes on getting into university because I knew that then, I could be in a better position to help my younger siblings.”
Manu, 27, has blood links to East Sepik, Central and Bougainville.
He decided to take on his big brother role more seriously after his mother separated from their stepfather in 2016. Manu did not want to lose his siblings to the streets.
He was in Grade 11 at the Tusbab Secondary School in Madang when his mother became a single parent.
“An uncle of mine in one of the settlements in Madang put me in school and helped me continue through to Grade 12.”
In 2018, Manu was accepted into the University of PNG School of Law.
“I was accepted into law school under the Higher Education Contribution Assistance Scheme scholarship.”
Great news but Manu remained worried about his siblings.
“(They will) call me up and tell me that they were hungry or had no bus fare to school. It worried me so much. I would reach out to friends and family to help me. But everyone had their own problems and usually no one was in a position to help.”
In 2020, after completing Year Two, Manu decided to suspend his studies and find a full time job to provide for his siblings’ needs.
“I got a job at Pacific Palms Limited as an administration assistant and worked there for three months. (But the) Covid-19 occurred and I was laid off.”
He then visited companies in search of business deals and sponsorship. He eventually came across a friend who offered to help him set up a security firm.
“I was blessed to come across my friend Jashong Lui Goa from the Salvation Army church in Boroko. With his help and encouragement, I was able to complete the paper works and set up a security firm.”
Even with the responsibility of looking after his brothers and sisters, Manu did not hesitate to open his home to friends at the university who had no accommodation in the city.
“I rented a room at one of the settlements in June Valley where I lived with my friends while trying to set up my security firm.
“ It is tough. I (sometimes) cry (when trying) to overcome the toughest. I visited companies and organisations to speak to them. I had the little ones at home who needed my help to give them a better life.”
“I had no permanent source of income and no investor. So I started a food catering service since I love to cook. And soon I had enough money, I bought a second-hand car and rented it out.”
This year, the Internal Revenue Commission and the Investment Promotion Authority gave him the green light to set up his security firm called Intel Security.
“I paid the permits for the 20 employees. I am finalising some paper work for my company office. Those running the operation now are university and college graduates.”
Manu now knows the pain of setting up a business from scratch but is grateful that the registration process was easy “although the funding was an issue”.
Manu is currently back in UPNG to complete his third year of law studies, while at the same time working on his new security firm.
With the will, courage, determination and hard work, Manu knows he will finally achieve his goal.
“It is tough. I (sometimes) cry (while trying) to overcome the toughest. (But) I had the little ones at home who needed my help to give them a better life.”