By LORRAINE JIMAL
H IS plan to become a teacher went out of the window when John Huaimbandi dropped out of Grade Six.
John, from Pambanieng village in Kubalia, Numbo local level government in East Sepik stayed at home for three years before an opportunity arose to join the police force.
Now 66, Police Sergeant John is leaving – for the second time. He had resigned in 2010 but was recalled by the constabulary four years later because they needed his experience and skills in the prosecution unit.
John is married to Esther from Madang. They have seven children – three daughters and four sons. They also have five grandchildren.
John was brought up in a strong Catholic home, starting his education at the Sassoya Catholic Mission boy’s boarding school run by the Divine Word missionaries.
After dropping out of Grade Six, he stayed in the village helping his parents. Then one Sunday morning after the Eucharistic service, it was announced that the constabulary was looking for young men like him as recruits.
He applied and after a week, received an acceptance letter. He hugged his hardworking parents and said goodbye.
John still remembers March 16, 1973, when he flew to Port Moresby to start the mandatory police training at the Bomana Training College.
After six months, he was posted to the highlands region, focusing on police prosecution work.
He spent most of his early years in Enga and Chimbu.
He continued to attend refresher courses and also conducted training himself for younger officers.
He met his wife when he was posted to Madang. He was transferred to Wewak in the late 90s to serve in his home district.
His training on discipline rubbed off on his children. He was firm and strict with them, demanding total obedience and honesty. It paid off. Five are working and two still studying.
He had resigned in 2010 to run a small business at home. But four years later, he was asked to return to his prosecution duties in the police force, something he regards as a “blessing from God”.
Daughter Angela thanked their parents for their sacrifice.
“Mum does home duties. Seven in the family was quite challenging for dad with his simple police pay package which brought us through.”
At a recent farewell parade in Wewak for John and 31 other retirees, his wife Esther and three daughters Angela, Rebecca and Maryanne watched him take his final salute. Angela regards his dad as a hero.
“I appreciate and salute him for the faith and discipline he instilled in us.”
Fellow villagers call him Papa JP (John Police).
John is happy and satisfied with his contribution to the police force and the nation. He is a proud father and grandfather, a hero in his family.
He still walks around full of energy and laughter, belying his 66 years.
He believes that he is in a special group of police officers who had to leave the constabulary twice.
His advice to young police officers is to always exercise the virtues of honesty, transparency, equality and justice.
He also stresses the importance of being loyal to one’s job and giving it the best one can.
Now it is time to put his feet up at home and spend more time with their grandchildren.
The Bible verse in 2 Timothy 4:7 sums Sgt John’s career well: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
By LORRAINE JIMAL