By GLORIA BAUAI
THIRTY-three-year-old Elsie Taylor has two important goals she’s currently pursuing: to be a qualified lawyer and to visit as many places in Papua New Guinea as she can.
The motivation behind these goals is her late husband Junior Zacharias Jamota.
Theirs is a sad and beautiful love story, almost as if it was brewed in the mind of an award winning writer in Hollywood.
Completing her diploma in primary education from the Sonoma Adventist College in 2012, Elsie returned to her home province of Northern to teach.
She met Zacharias who was part of a family group that was awarded a contract to build classrooms at Kokoda Primary School where she was teaching.
They knew each other during their childhood, so falling in love was inevitable; destiny was not to pass them by.
Following their traditional marriage, Elsie returned to Sonoma Adventist College to do her bachelor’s degree in education, with Zacharias’ support.
Elsie went on to become the head teacher of a remote run-down school in Kokoda – Abuari Primary School – which she revived in 2018.
Zacharias, had left formal education in grade 6, and that year, he returned to school, being taught by his wife, Elsie.
“I did not force him; it was all his decision,” she says.
“Looking at life now, it’s difficult for a family to rely on one breadwinner, so he decided to return to school in order to land a permanent job with formal education.”
Elsie will learn only later through his personal development books that he had dreams of being an engineer.
“We planned that I would put him through school, and when he’s formally employed, I will return to school and take up law and eventually be a judge.”
Sadly, Elsie’s world of plans and promises with Zacharias were shattered in 2019, just after four years of marriage.
“He was the school’s grade 8 dux and passed on to do grade 9 at Kokoda High School in 2019,” she said with pride.
Abuari Primary School where Elsie teaches is a six to seven hour climb uphill from Kokoda station, so meeting on a regular basis for the young couple was a challenge. With no telecommunication network in Abuari where Elsie still teaches to date, communication was even more difficult.
“He never told me he was sick,” she sadly recalls.
“I had a dream where I saw him falling off a cliff. I tried my best to save him, but I couldn’t.”
Elsie left Abuari immediately after to check on her husband, only to be notified by her in-laws of his passing, through a text message, when she reached network coverage.
“To find him lying lifeless, not waking up to greet me, is the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced in my life and it still pains me to this day,” she said, choking.
“Only God gives me strength to carry on every day.”
On Friday, Aug 28, 2020, Elsie paid her registration fee and applied online to study law at the University of Papua New Guinea.
“He may not be by my side physically, but spiritually, I know he is watching so I won’t forget our plans. I will carry on.”
They had also planned to tour the country together, which Elsie is now doing solo.
Last year over the Christmas holidays, she visited three provinces; Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka and Madang (Ramu).
“My advice to young couples is reconcile quickly with your partner after every fight. Death is a thief.”
She fondly describes her late husband as a person with an open and caring personality.
“Even though I had a steady job while he was doing odd jobs, he’d still give me his pay envelop to open. He’d greet people from afar and always shared whatever little he had.”
Elsie treasures the memories of their days together in the span of their relationship and says she will pursue all dreams they had together.
By GLORIA BAUAI