By LORRAINE JIMAL
WHEN their parents separated in 2009, Shalothy Pataaku and her five brothers had to go and live with their grandparents at Aganuma village, Bana district in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Last month their grandmother passed away leaving only their old grandfather to look after them.
“All the past years, we’ve struggled along with the little they could provide which we accept with pride.”
Her mother Dorah Auta is from Baitsii in the Saburu Ward. Her father Samson Pataáku is from Siwai district. They separated in 2009 for some reason Shalothy does not care to know.
Shalothy was born on June 18, 1998. She is the only girl and third eldest in a family of six.
The eldest brother dropped out of school after Grade 10. The second eldest is in Grade 12 and lives in New Ireland with an uncle. Her younger three brothers are living with their grandfather in the small village of Aganuma. One is in Grade 10, another in Grade Four and the youngest not in school because the grandfather cannot afford his school fees.
Shalothy accepts that she comes from a broken home and is trying her best to complete her education, get a degree and look after what is left of her family. She is focusing on her studies and hope to achieve her dream.
She is into her first year into a Bachelor of Environmental Health at the Divine Word University.
“My plan is to graduate and rebuild my broken family. I have been dreaming all these years to graduate and go back to the village with flying colors and sort out my family.”
Her relatives too have problems and cannot do much to help Shalothy and her brothers.
“ My plan is to get a degree and rebuild my broken family. I have been dreaming all these years to graduate and go back to the village with flying colours to sort out my family.”
She started her education at Pikey Elementary in 2007 and moved to the Boku Primary School. She attended Bana High School in 2015 and 2016, then Buin Secondary School to do Grade 11 and 12 in 2017 and 2018.
She plans to not only support her family but also to develop Arawa town after getting her degree.
The town felt the brunt of violence during the Bougainville crisis and a lot of repair and renovation work need to be done.
She notices people breaching the Zoning Act and putting up buildings wherever they like.
She knows the town needs a lot of cleaning too because of the rubbish everywhere.
The water supply for the town is another major issue.
“I have been dreaming to modify Arawa. I have seen small children with skin rashes being taken to the clinic. The supply is sourced from the Bovo River which may be contaminated with mercury because there’s alluvial mining up there.
“This is one of my concerns too as public health is my priority as an environment student.”
She thanks her grandparents for all they have done.
“Coming from a broken home and trapped in the darkness, there stood my grandparents who rescued me and my brothers when the darkness was overwhelming.”
She had a lot of good things planned with her grandmother to do after graduation before she passed away a month ago.
“But I’m still carrying on. Everything will be alright. I won’t give up.”