Taste of village life in Kerema

My host Peita Waeka

I HAD an incredible vacation at Siviri village in Kerema, Gulf.
It is an experience I will treasure.
Although I am from that province, this was my first time to spend a vacation in a rural Gulf village.
I spent two weeks and three days at Siviri village with my in-laws and discovered why the Tairuma folks, whose land the provincial capital Kerema occupies, are spectators on their own land.
Authorities have forgotten these very people who are landowners of Kerema town and airport.
They lack proper services like an aid post and even safe drinking water. They don’t benefit from any spin-offs and do their own little things in life and I just hope “the right time” will come for them one of these days.
My sojourn in Siviri recently has been much of a relief to me away from the noisy and polluted Port Moresby city. It was really amazing as my visit to the village was made all the more enjoyable by my hosts Waeka Sere and his beautiful wife Peita who had provided me the best in hospitality.
Waeka is a dinghy operator with the provincial department of health and does the runs to health centres in the province to as far as Kikori and Baimuru.
For his wife Peita fishing is part of her life and she goes to the Tairuma Bluff early in the mornings and returns home with good catches.
She cooks some of her catch for dinner and sells the rest at the Kerema market to make ends meet for her family.
I was an extra mouth to feed by Peita but she always smiled at me and puts her chin up and tells me to eat as much as I could in her local dialect which I understand well.
She is a champion in her own right as a simple village mother who understands what life is all about.
I owe her a lot for looking after me in the good and bad times and enjoyed every moment of my stay.
Her kids are well-disciplined and have a lot of respect for their parents and are now growing up into adults.
Daughter Julie is a policewoman at the Kerema police station and is a down-to-earth law enforcer who is very committed to her work when on duty. The locals in town respect her as the only policewoman from Siviri village.
There is no reliable source of drinking water and the people rely only on the rains to fill their drums up but my holiday there was during one the worst dry seasons faced in Kerema, locals told me.
As someone who had grown up in the city going, to the beach during the night and mangroves at day time to relieve myself was something I found uncomfortable and hard to go through. It was difficult for me to walk on the mud into the mangroves to do this.
But I was also having some uneasy moments with my wife Sheila who told me off in front of her relatives. But I just ignored her and walked off to Kerema town to cool off.
As a good guest in company of in-laws, I just had to cope and not make a big fuss about it.
But it did not really bother me because I was not going to let anyone or anything stop me from enjoying every moment of my holiday in Siviri.
On most days of those three weeks there was really nothing much for me to do but relax on ahammock under the house and go off to sleep.
I did not go swimming at Pariva but enjoyed the afternoon strolls along the beautiful grey beach looking toward Tairuma Point and further ahead.
Soon it was time to pack up and head back to work in Port Moresby. With my wife nagging me, and with no relatives nearby I was under some pressure as I prepared to return to the city.
I made several call to with my good friends like PNG Rugby Football Leagues Southern Confederate director Gwaibo Mairi and Samson Metofa who bailed me out.
On the Monday I lfet Siviri, I had a hot cup of tea and refused to eat plain ricebut got ready to take off when Waeka my faithful host urged me to wait for some fish he was cooking which I was to enjoy before leaving.
When the fish was cooked I ate it quickly and said good-bye and walked off without turning my back.

at Tairuma Bay.

My wife did not follow me when I turned the corner to Kerema Bay and when I turned around on the footbridge there was no sign of her behind me.
I walked across the bridge and met Sheila’s uncle Levi and told him that I was leaving for Port Moresby.
In Kerema town, I boarded a 25-seater bus named Muruk Gras which was stacked with betel nut bags and mustard at the back, front and middle row seats.
It was really an uncomfortable trip with betel bags and mustard wrapped in palm leaves falling on top us.
There were many stopovers with the highlanders buying more mustard as we cruised to Mekeo, Central.
What was supposed to be a four hour trip from Kerema to Port Moresby took a good six hours instead.
We finally arrived at 9-Mile and drove straight to the betel wholesale market to offload the bags.
Our first drop off was at Gerehu and then we drove to Morata, then to Gordon to change buses.
With two other passengers we headed for Hohola and 4-Mile.
Aftet the tiring six-hour drive from Kerema there was nothing else to do except a cool shower before heading off to bed.
After two more days of rest in Port Moresby I resumed work on Thursday, Jan 16, looking and feeling fresh from the wonderful holiday in Siviri!

Pariva Beach’s unique allure

THERE is huge tourism potential around Pariva Beach, Tairuma Bay in Gulf.
Looking out from the shoreline to the sparkling horizon and the smooth sea surface on a fine day, and the grey beach, this is an incredible escape for any visitor who has been around the country and wants something different.
Pariva Beach is arguably a sleeping tourism destination that needs to be promoted.
This is a product nature has blessed Tairuma with but who can take the initiative to turn that potential into reality for the locals?
Another question is: Why is it that the landowners are not provided opportunities or priority to run and operate businesses on their own land which is occupied by the Kerema township?
The Tairuma villagers have become like strangers on their own land while foreigners are setting up big supermarkets in town and other Papua New Guineans are slowly building and increasing in numbers.
The land in Kerema town and the airport belongs to the Tairumas but something has to happen or someone needs to lead and show them the way to better benefit from their own land being surrendered for the benefit of the province and country.
They don’t operate PMV businesses or supermarkets but only small trade stores, dinghies and fuel retail outlets and that is about all.
I spent over two weeks at Siviri village and discovered that nobody has taken serious consideration for tourism in the province.
Most of the youths from Siviri and Kerema Bay spend their time playing rugby league for the Young Tigers team in the Kerema Rugby League competition. They, by the way, are five-time winners in the A grade and women’s division.
The Siviri youths whose land the Kerema township occupies have had no government and corporate sector support whereas the Koiaris Dobo Warriors are assisted by Eda Ranu to participate in the Port Moresby Rugby League competition.
I walked the grey beach and wondered why authorities are not assisting the landowners here to venture into tourism-related business.
Authorities can talk about this but if no serious action is taken, time and the opportunity will drift away like logs when the sea in Tauruma is rough and the tides are strong.
There is money to be made but the landowners need professional advice and training to be tour operators and guides or venture into other related activities in tourism.
In my mind I can see a beach guest house boasting a scenic lookout towards the stretch of grey beach to Siviri village and Kerema Bay with the old wharf standing on the sand bank.
Besides, the local culture is very much intact as people preserve their traditions and customary beliefs and ways of doing things. Because there are no tourists visiting Kerema, art and craft are not promoted and marketed in the town even though there is an abundance of skill and craftsmanship.
Tairumas are proud of their culture but there is no one to lead them with business ideas.
Some people still live in bush material houses which is an added attraction, while others live in permanent or semi-permanent homes.
One local lady, Helen Tuakara from Sepeo village has recently started a tourism business but is faced with challenges and struggling without any support from the provincial authorities.
She may have experience in the industry but cannot do it alone without the support.

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