By JONATHAN KOH
A YOUNG Sepik man who has given up selling buai is now setting his eyes on a career in shipping. But first he had to take the initial small initial steps from the ground up.
Adrian Jilan is the seventh-born of eight in a family from Forok village in the Turubu LLG of Wewak, East Sepik.
He is a subsistence farmer and depends on his cash crops for his livelihood. He looks after cocoa, vanilla and coconut plantations. Although betel nut has a good market, he decided to give it up because he turned to church.
“In 2016 I decided to take up marine engineering and become a seaman because I wanted to be knowledgeable in dealing with my boys when I work with them after I start up my own business for example, fixing gen sets,” he mentioned.
Jilan came up with this idea after learning from his nephew and a few others that this kind of expertise or knowledge was highly sought-after.
“I was in the village looking after my cash crops and was making my living through selling them when I came up with this idea,” he said.
One day he was travelling from the village into Wewak town and saw boat at the boat stop opposite the town post office, and the skipper calling out to passengers, “Madang, Madang!”
From there, he said a thought struck him to venture into studying at Pacific Maritime Training College in Port Moresby.
“I travelled to Madang on that very afternoon on a boat,” he said.
“I didn’t lose faith in what I wanted to do. I just prayed to God that everything would be okay and it turned out just right. We arrived in Madang in a small village in Bogia District called Jokari at around 12 midday.
Despite the availability of the transport vehicles, we were not on the road. The PMVs have a system in which they travel only at night. The reason for this is because the PMVs must arrive in Madang town in the morning at around 6am in order for Lae passengers to have easy access for their travel and for some passengers to make their shopping.
“So we stayed till late at Jokari and around eight or nine we left on a PMV which cost me K25 and arrived in Madang town at around 6am. From Madang town I continued my journey on a K60 Lae PMV bus called A Muno and we were off to Lae.
“Before traveling we picked up some more passengers around Madang town as usual and around 2pm we were on the road to Lae. We made a stop at 40-Mile on the highway to pass time in order for the place to clear up so that the passengers would be able to be dropped off at the location in Lae for safety reasons because by then it would be morning.
“I went off at 10-Mile to stay with my dad’s uncle, Peter Jui. Then I waited for my big brother who was working at Port Moresby an Accountant to send me a ticket to get to Port Moresby.
“After two months of waiting in Lae, I ended up with drinking buddies on the streets and life was not going well for me. I almost lost hope. Then in November, my big bro called.
“When I saw his name on the phone a felt a relief. I started to feel that my hopes of going to Moresby and pursuing my studies is finally being answered.
“When I was in Port Moresby, I was instructed by him to read a lot of newspapers and books to prepare myself for the entry test at Pacific Maritime College.
“After a while, I sat for the test and was able to make it through.
“In 2016 I went in with the first batch and completed my General Purpose Course Rating Two (2).This meant that I can now do maintenance and other General Purpose work around the engine room. This field or job is sometimes called Motor Man. In a class of 15, which are all men, I graduated with a certificate in April. “I made an initial payment of K3000 and later payed K2000 to complete the K5000 full school fee payment and was able to get my certificate”, he said.
“I struggled a bit to find the money and I was fortunate with God’s help and I thank him for that.
“After graduating, I started looking for jobs. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful. I was out on the streets, continued doing what I did back in Lae which I joined the boys drinking and doing nothing on the streets.
“I was lucky enough to own a phone that is equipped with internet and electronic mail system so I emailed my necessary papers and application to Bismarck Maritime in Lae. I was in Wewak when I got a call one afternoon.
“I looked at my phone and saw an unfamiliar number calling. I answered and a woman started speaking to me. I was surprised to hear that she was the HR manager Bismarck Shipping. She told me that you get your bags and standby at Wewak Wharf to hop on one of their big container ship called Rabaul Express.
“I was very excited deep within and was lost for words. I spoke with her for a while and thanked her for the opportunity. I also thanked the God almighty for answering my prayers when all my hopes were almost gone.
“Currently I am a very changed person who has turned a blind eye on those sinful habits and enjoying my time with the PNG Bible church.
“Now I am praying and hoping that God would open more doors so that I could find some money to renew my safety of life at sea (Solas) because this would certify me to get back to work on a ship. Now I am without it and am doing church activities.”
- Jonathan Koh is a freelance writer.