Philemon’s cabbage garden helps in paying school fees


TEN-year-old Philemon Nake is showing a lot of maturity for his age.
His parents, originally from Okapa in Eastern Highlands, are now living at Raniolo in the Kokopo-Vunamami urban local level government of Kokopo district in East New Britain.
They are both unemployed and earn a living by growing and selling vegetables at Vunapope.
Philemon is happy to help them sell vegetables outside his schools hours. He attends St Mary Immaculate Elementary school in Vunapope, doing elementary prep.
The young boy, who was with his mother at the market, believes children must learn to help their parents especially when families are struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Philemon says children such as him must do whatever they can to help their families. He hopes that the little assistance he gives will help parents pay for his school fees and other expenses.
Families such as his have been struggling to put food on the table and send children to school.
During the state of emergency lockdown when schools were closed, and the Kokopo market was closed, Philemon walked around the neighbourhood selling vegetables to families.
He did not want to join his friends roaming aimlessly around or playing sports. He believes there are more important things to do at home to help his parents.
Residents at Vunapope are used to seeing little Philemon selling vegetables at the market or around the neighbourhood.
His parents had moved to Kokopo 11 years ago before he was born. He regards himself as a native of Kokopo as he was born there.
“Both my parents are unemployed and we grow our own vegetables at Raniolo, which my mother sells at the Kokopo main market.”

“ I asked my parents to give me cabbage seedlings which I plant on my little plot given to me by my mother.”

Their vegetable sales hit a snag when the Kokopo market was closed during the state of emergency period. They had no choice but to walk around Vunapope selling vegetables house to house.
The vegetables his mother sells helps support the family with their basic needs. Feeling sorry for his mother, Philemon decided sell cabbage to raise money for his school fees.
He has his own vegetable garden.
“During the lockdown period, I didn’t waste my time playing around with friends. I helped my parents with the gardening. And I asked them to give me cabbage seedlings which I planted on my little plot given to me by my mother.”
He sells the cabbages for 30t each. He raised K100 from the sale of cabbages.
Philemon hopes to do well in school so that he can get a good job and repay his parents what they have done for him, and look after them.
If all else fails, he knows there is still the land to fall back on. He has started young in using the land to generate an income. He knows how useful the land is to those who are prepared to work hard.
His little cabbage garden at Raniolo has taught him a big lesson on how to sustain one’s life by using the land which is in abundance in the country.

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