By ZACHERY PER
UNO Jeremiah Konisimo from Kafana village outside Goroka town just recently got married. He had always told himself that he will only tie the knot after he attains a good education, builds himself a house, and has his own vegetable gardens.
The God-fearing Seventh Day Adventist is now a senior public servant in the Eastern Highlands bureaucracy and is working hard to bring the concept of self-help to people in the province so that development can begin with people in the villages.
Uno’s life was far from rosy when he began life at Kafana. He was still a young lad when his parents died in 2004. He was to have started grade 11 that year but missed out on the first term of school because the death of his parents had left him without school fees. His sister and brother-in-law took him under their wings.
“I started grade 11 at Bena Bena Secondary School in term two in 2004, when I have a bar of soap, I cut it into quarters to use and used empty drums from school as buckets to fetch water to wash and do laundry,” he recalled.
On the weekend breaks and during the holidays, he would walk to his village from school because he couldn’t afford PMV fares.
After grade 12, he enrolled at the University of Goroka in 2006 studied for his Bachelor of Education degree (B.Ed) and graduated three years later. He returned to Bena Bena Secondary School, this time as a teacher. He taught for a year and returned to UOG to do Natural Sciences in 2011. He tutored biology to students while he studied.
The young lad from Kafana village outside Goroka town was very fortunate to be part of a first Eastern Highlands Provincial delegation that traveled to Korea in 2012 for a two-week training under a Korean model ‘Saenaul Undong’ (SNU) Theory and Practice a partnership program between Korea and Eastern Highlands Province.
The partnership program was for Eastern Highlands Province to adopt and pilot the Korean model of new village development concept under Eastern Highlands Governor Julie Soso’s ‘bottom up’ approach to develop rural communities.
Konisimo was identified among the delegation to study for master’s degree majoring in ‘Saemaul Undong Theory and Practice’, ‘Public Policy and Leadership’, and ‘Forest Resources and Ecological Restoration’ at ‘Park Chung Hee School at Yeungnam University in Korea.
At the age of 29, Konisimo was the first student from the Oceania region experiencing the Saemaul Undong among 52 international students from 26 different countries studying at the ‘Park Chung Hee School of Policy and Saemaul’,
He said, “When I first encountered the Saemaul spirit of diligence, self-help, and cooperation, it was a complete shock. I am convinced that the concept of ‘self-help’ will bring about great changes to the people of my country, who always blame the Government for everything that goes bad.” He said he wants to spark the Saemaul Undong of ‘we can do it’ not only in Oceania, but throughout the world.
‘Saemaul Undong Theory and Practice Provincial Director in Eastern Highlands Enoch Yabimo said Korean Government has implemented the concept 60 years ago and has proven successful and is now one of the leading developed countries in the World.
He said Governor Soso supported the program with K200, 000 making it possible for Eastern Highlanders to travel to Korea for training in 2012, they are now piloting Saemaul Undong Theory and Practice under Bottom Up approach to develop rural areas.
Konisimo won the dux award at the Korean University, he passed out in 2014 with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, he is now the Director of Eastern Highlands Provincial Foreign Desk and Acting First Secretary to Governor Soso.
Konisimo was instrumental in securing the new rural hospital for Asaro Hospital in Daulo district all funded by the Korean Government under Korean Overseas International Corporation Agency (KOICA).
Meanwhile, Konisimo also set a milestone in his life showing a very fine example for other young people when he and his longtime girlfriend Lavi Sibalen Babah tied knot at Kama Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) in September last year. The occasion was the largest ever wedding ceremony witnessed in Goroka.
Former President of Eastern Highlands/Simbu SDA Mission Pastor Jesley Farugaso presided over the ceremony.
Notably Konisimo’s Korean friend David Wanjin Kim traveled all the way from Vietnam to witness the wedding and former PNG Ambassador to Korea Bill Veri was also present to witness the occasion.
Governor Soso who attended the wedding described the young couple as showing a very good example to youths of today to follow.
“Uno Jeremiah has shown that he has knowledge and experience he gained from Korea that will be utilized in Eastern Highlands Province, he will spearhead my Government’s ‘bottom up planning’ from the 264 Ward Councils in the province,” Soso said.
Family members and relatives from both sides that spoke at the gatherings at Kama SDA church grounds and their Kafana village outside Goroka praised the new couple for choosing God to take charge of their marriage and ask for his blessings in their lives.
Konisimo’s relatives and uncles Ben Kava and Ezekiel Nama praised the newly wedded couple that they have set a bench mark for other young ones to follow.
They married at the right time and have not given burdens for their relatives. His young wife Lavi Sibalen Babah is the daughter of very conservative Seventh Day Adventist faithfuls Smith Babah and Lynette Babah.
During the interview Konisimo revealed that he wanted to get married only when he felt the time was right when he attained the highest educational qualification, have his own gardens, built his own house and have his own startups.
“Indeed everything came out very successful for me, God blesses me with a beautiful wife, a God fearing woman, highly educated and someone who helps me to start up small business.
“We now have nothing to regret and we are pursuing together for more achievement in life. “We thank God for guiding us through our lives to this stage of our wedding successfully,” Konisimo said.
By ZACHERY PER