Michael mends shoes for a living


COBBLER Joansan Markdama, 39, is happy to fix the shoes of people from every walk of life.
“I have a lot of customers, mostly policemen and soldiers. Policemen, if they are not issued with new pairs of shoes, come to me to mend their old ones.
“Soldiers who are regular customers from Murray Barracks, Taurama and Goldie bring their shoes to me for mending.”
Joansan is from Sinesine-Yongomugl in Chimbu. He lives at Six Mile (Saraga Settlement) in Port Moresby with his wife and three children.
He began patching shoes in 2012 while living in Goroka. He noticed that it was very popular as a lot of people were coming to him to mend their shoes. And there was not much competition there.
He decided that it was good way to earn a living to support his family. He therefore left Goroka for Port Moresby where he knew was where the money was.
He had been working for various companies before deciding to do something else on his own.
Joansan found a spot near the fire station at Boroko to run his business. And he has his own clientele, mainly members of the disciplined forces, public servants and lawyers.
He now can fix not only shoes but also sandals, bags, zippers, leather wallets, mobile phone cases, and leather belts.

“ Policemen, soldiers, lawyers, doctors and other professionals in Port Moresby come to me to repair their shoes.”
Joansan Markdama at Boroko in Port Moresby where he attends to customers every day. – Pictures by MICHAEL PHILIP

He believes that being a cobbler is a good way to serve people who love to dress well but at a minimal and affordable cost.
Joansan charged fees according to the amount of work to be done and the type of shoe.
“I charge customers depending on the quality of the shoes. Shoes have their own brands. And today we also have a lot of fake shoes manufactured by Asians.
“So for genuine quality shoes, I charge the clients accordingly. This is to save costs to those who love to wear quality shoes every day, and do not have to buy new ones. They pay before I start working on the shoes.”
The income he earns every day is enough to support his family and pay for his bus fare between Saraga and Boroko.
Joansan is reluctant to talk about his education or family background, saying he is content with what he is doing now.
He not only earns an income but also gets to meet a lot of people who walk past him every day in Boroko.
Not really the best job one could ask for but for Joansan, it is enough to support his family and himself in bustling Port Moresby.
“Also lawyers, doctors and other professionals in Port Moresby come to me for the mending, patching and repairing of their shoes.”
They may work in air-condition offices, own cars and posh homes, but they all come running to Joansan to have their shoes patched. Michel de Montaigne once said: “The souls of emperors and cobblers are cast in the mold.”

  • Michael Philip is a freelancer writer who contributes features regularly to People.