Static guard attains degree


AN elderly man rose up and exclaimed “glory to God” when his son graduated last Monday with a bachelor’s degree in accounting at the University of Papua New Guinea’s (UPNG) 67th graduation ceremony in Port Moresby.
Erise Touai, a preacher and former static guard, from Kunimaipa valley, Goilala, Central, said he felt proud and blessed as very few people from his district who lived in settlements had managed to come this far.
“Throughout my secondary school life, my family were the only ones supporting me,” he said.
“Life was very difficult as my father is just a cleaner and my mother is an illiterate house wife.
“We looked after pigs and my dad sold piglets to pay for our school fees.
“We do not have any close relatives who are working so they could support us and it was very difficult for us.”
Touai said he was humbled by the continuous support his family had given to him despite being poor and not having much.
Touai started his education at Omu Primary School in Goilala.
As most rural schools in the country, waking up early and walking long distances, crossing fast flowing rivers and climbing mountains was a regular struggle.
After completing grade six, Touai and his family left their village and moved to Port Moresby for better opportunities.
“My father took us and left our village in Goilala because he wanted us to be educated, though he himself is illiterate and so is my mother,” he said.
“My father knew nothing of education, but he understood that people who went to school would be able to get jobs.
“So he took us to Port Moresby to live with his older brother in Rabiagini settlement at 2-Mile, so my siblings and I could go to school.
“Due to the size of the house, my parents and smaller siblings usually slept under the house in the little room dug out by my dad.
“Life in the city was very difficult as my parents are both villagers and are illiterate but we depended on my father’s job for our daily living.” Living at 2-Mile settlement his father worked as a cleaner at Koki market was able to enroll Touai at Kilakila Primary School where he successfully completed his primary education.
The following years (2013, 2014), Touai went on to do his grade 9 and 10 at Kilakila Secondary School which he successfully completed, but he did not continue to grade 11 as a tribal fight affected his studies.
During the 2014 Christmas holiday, his family went home to Goilala but Touai stayed on and worked with security firm Black Swan International as a static guard and was posted to guard the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue.
“In early 2015, a fight broke out between my village and a neighbouring village which resulted in four deaths and this stopped my parents and siblings from returning to Port Moresby,” he said.
“Without my immediate family, I continued my grade 11 at Kilakila while living with my relatives at 2-Mile settlement.
“Life was getting tougher so I had to work at night and attend class during the day.
“However, this routine was disturbed as enemies came from the village and was pursing me for retaliation.”
Touai said he had to withdraw from school in 2015 because of safety concerns.
“After withdrawing from grade 11, I continued to work for the security firm for the remaining months of 2015 and went back to school the following year.”
In 2016, his parents and siblings were able to return to Port Moresby.
“Since we were living with our relatives, I built a house for my family using the money I saved while working for the security firm.”
Touai who was now settled with the return of his mother and father, re-enrolled and completed senior high school.
He was selected to study for a diploma in accounting at the Port Moresby Business College.
“I was selected to study in college in 2018 but my parents and relatives could not afford the tuition fees,” he said.
“I was then referred by my brother to Collin Yakio, the national director for Life PNG Care.
“Yakio has the heart to help and was passionate to assist me.
“After meeting Yakio, he promptly assisted me financially by paying my tuition fees.”
Life PNG Care’s financial assistance continued through his second year at the college and throughout university (2020-2021).
He said he was blessed to have Life PNG Care sponsor him to complete his staudies and dedicated his achievement to his parents, relatives and Yakio and Life PNG Care.