By GYNNIE KERO
RECENTLY, I witnessed a reconciliation ceremony at a village in the Numbo Local Level Government of Yangoru-Saussia in East Sepik.
It is a village which I have personal connections with through my mother who hails from Hambuke.
One may ask, what is ‘reconciliation’?
It is the restoration of friendly relations.
People from the Numbohu village felt the need to set aside differences and work together with the local MP Richard Maru.
Coming from that area of the district, I’ve never witnessed what my maternal relatives meant when they say kastom wok.
Garden food were placed in a heap in front of the local MP. One hundred kina notes were pinned onto a cane and brought in front of a gathering.
Maru also received a traditional shell money from the people of Numbohu.
The shells are important and sacred in my culture. Their sizes vary and so does their value.
They are used in payment of bride price, compensation and in other important ceremonies.
Ialibu-Pangia MP Peter O’Neill also received a shell money from the Hambuke people when he toured the district last month with Maru.
It was the people’s way of thanking him for new double storey classrooms and three new quarters for teachers at Hambuke Primary School.
Maru says it cost almost a million kina for all infrastructures for the school.
At Numbohu , Maru launched the village housing scheme (VHS) for the Numbo area.
Two families were lucky recipients of iron roofing sheets, thus bringing the number of total recipients in the whole Yangoru-Saussia district to 18.
The scheme is the district’s deliberate intervention to incentivise our people to replace bush material dwellings with modern permanent homes to improve their living standard.
Under the scheme, roofing iron will be given to people after they have put up their house frames.
For a couple who had dwelled in a sago-thatched roof all their lives, the scheme was a great relief.
Jim Wafi and his wife Naomi are married with six children and 11 grandchildren.
Naomi said their family would soon be able to move out from their sago-thatched roof they had lived in for many years.
Another couple is Wilbert Wingka and his wife Kema, who also received roofing iron sheets for their five bedroom house at Numbohu village.
O’Neill and Maru also visited the Sepik Plains were the multi-million kina Sepik Economic Zone is located. The poultry project has already started beginning with layers (chickens) to supply eggs to the local market.
Growing and processing broiler chickens is next on the list, once the hatchery and slaughter houses are completed.
Maru, as I’ve come to realise, is one of a few politicians in the country who have a vision to help their people.
That is evident in the projects the district has been funding in various sectors like health, education, agriculture, SMEs, road and bridge infrastructures, etc., he set up during his three-year term.
Our rural people will not have to travel to towns and cities if they can access basic services at the districts.
Yangoru-Saussia people will not have to spend K30 to travel all the way to Wewak to stand in a queue in order to use the bank. There are already banking facilities available at their doorsteps.
Soon bigger firms will set up a hardware shop and supermarket at Yangoru station. People will not have to travel far for groceries and hardware needs.
East Sepik has a lot of hard working businessmen and farmers who grow crops like cocoa, coffee and vanilla.
A current risk faced by these farmers is armed hold ups and robberies along the Sepik Highway.
In a recent decision, the Yangoru-Saussia DDA decided to undertake an agriculture survey – with particular focus on cocoa and vanilla production.
The district plans to invest K1 million for agricultural activities, especially cocoa and vanilla.
From these crops alone, Yangoru-Saussia generates over K80 million per year.
With interventions from the Government through the local MP and the DDA, as well as commercial ventures, the district and the greater East Sepik are set for real progress in the not too-distant future.
But without peace and harmony, the sustainability of such developments would be undermined. It is with this understanding that the villagers have recently decided to resolve outstanding matters among themselves and with their MP.