By GLORIA BAUAI
NATASHA Khulip was forced at an early age to help her mother look after their family of four when her dad left them.
“Mum would tell me about our financial struggles and other challenges so I knew without a doubt that life has been a hectic ride, even though she managed to provide a somewhat decent life for us.
“I don’t talk a lot and I control my emotions. I guess because of this, I became my mum’s strength. Whenever she would break down, I was the wall she leaned on.”
“ Although she does not tell me, I can see it in her tears when she hugs me and talks to me that she’s proud of me.”
Natasha, 21, is the third eldest in the family of four – two boys and two girls. Mum is from Milne Bay. They live in Lae.
When her two elder brothers dropped out of school, Natasha became more determined to achieve a higher goal to help her family. Her mum needed her as a helper and confidante.
Her younger sister is attending the International Training Institute.
Natasha is aware of the many families who have disintegrated for various reasons, and how these breakdowns have mostly affected the children, especially the daughters.
“Many children in my shoes would have allowed the situation to triumph over them. Not me.”
Natasha also learned to lean towards the everlasting and unwavering source of strength, guidance, help and wisdom – God.
She completed her secondary school education at Busu Secondary in Lae in 2018.
Her family experience pushed Natasha to pursue a degree in social work at the University of PNG in 2019.
“I was so angry with my father that it actually motivated me to apply for social work so I can stand up for vulnerable, marginalised women.”
She is now an intern with the Department of Community Development, Youth and Religion.
Now in her third-year degree course, she is one of the 12 social work major students attached with the department of community development, youth and religion for a 13-week practical.
She recently travelled home to Lae with the team from the department’s religion office to attend a church development council.
“I’m grateful for the experience and opportunity to learn in this field. I’ve already received offers from other departments but I will keep my options open and trusting God in the process.”
Natasha believes that women should motivate and encourage each other to progress. And young people in general dealing with various issues must never forget where they came from.
Natasha’s inspiration is her mother.
“It’s my mum that keeps me going. I always consider her before making any decision that may be affect my future. I know if I go wrong, it will destroy her and my yearly K15,000 tuition would be wasted.
“Although she does not tell me, I can see it in her tears when she hugs me and talks to me that she’s proud of me.”
Natasha hopes and prays that one day soon she will be able to pay back her Mum for her sacrifice and hard work in single-handedly bringing up the four siblings.
It is what drives Natasha on.