Scrimping on biscuits for a degree


IN a country made of thousands of tribes and more than 800 plus languages, one’s success and achievements in life becomes the success and pride of the family, relatives and most importantly the tribe in which she or he belongs to.
This is truer in the Highlands region, one of the most populated hinterlands of the country with thousands of tribes where whatever an individual does or achieves, at the end, the education or business success of that one person becomes the success, pride and achievement of the whole tribe.
One such man who has made his parents and his tribe proud is Samson Wambe. Samson has come from being a security guard to becoming a lawyer when he was admitted to the bar last Friday. He is from the Yamka-Pepka tribe of Western Highlands and his relatives and especially, his beloved parents Anna and Gabriel were over the moon following his achievements, first graduating in Law from the University of PNG in 2015, and now his admittance to the bar.
For people from Dobel in Hagen Central where that inter-tribal conflict occurred and where parents still do not have the means to foster their children’s education, Samson’s achievement is a rarity for the area.
Samson has been a determined young man to have come this far. After he was accepted to study Law at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2011, and before he could enroll at university, his family was displaced by an inter-tribal conflict. They had to seek refuge at his mother’s village.
“The fight cost us our gardens, house, trade store and other properties that we owned. I nearly lost my dad who was stabbed with a bush knife on his back but fortunately he recovered,” Samson said.
The tribal conflict meant that his parents could not afford to financially support him in his studies. Before the first semester began, in fact, in December 2010, Samson flew to Port Moresby and successfully sought employment with a security firm. He started work as a static guard and dog handler. That was his sole revenue earning method until early last year when he when he was accepted into Legal Training Institute.
“The effect of that tribal fight was very detrimental to me. I was a victim. I was left with no one to help me at that time as no one was at peace so I decided to work as a security guard to support myself,” he said.
“During the day, I was a law student attending lectures but at night I was a security guard and a dog handler. All the streets of Port Moresby were my home.”
“My staple food was snax biscuit and juice, rations provided by my employer before postings at various locations.”
That was his dinner every night. A good rest or a good decent dinner were hard to come by during those four long years. He didn’t let that get in the way of his learning and strived on towards his goal.
While he kept guard around the places he was posted to, he also worked on his assignments.
“Guardhouses were my study places and when I am posted to locations without a guardhouse, I make sure I find a spot where I can do my studies.”
Samson said his fellow security officers on duty with him were understanding and respectful towards him.
After attaining his Bachelor in Law degree, Samson entered the Legal Training Institute last year. He had to leave employment due to a demanding study schedule at LTI.
Last Wednesday, Samson was one of those students beaming the brightest when he graduated from LTI as a lawyer. All his days of sacrifice had landed him exactly where he desired to be when he was admitted to the bar on Friday last week.
Samson, who now works with the Legal Training Institute has this message for everyone.
“Nothing is impossible. Think big.”