By PETER WARI
IN a tribal fighting area, it is a big risk to build permanent homes or start a small business because they can be destroyed at a moment’s notice.
But Wilson Hape of Hoiyebia village in the Tebi local level government in Tari-Pori district, Hela, did it anyway.
The Tebi area is known for its endless tribal fights which have claimed so many lives and destroyed countless properties worth millions of kina over the years.
The only village which remains peaceful and trouble-free is Hoiyebia. It has a strong United Church following and is where the Hoiyebia primary and secondary schools are located. It also has aid post.
Many of his fellow villagers have built permanent homes and buildings.
The village was visited by Tari-Pori MP James Marape when he was the Finance Minister and recently as Prime Minister, accompanied by Hela Governor Philip Undialu. They praised the villagers for looking after the churches and government services.
Father-of-two Wilson, 38, is a primary school teacher and businessman. He is the eldest in a family of five brothers and sisters.
Today he owns two buses, a 10-seater vehicle, a garage where vehicles are repaired, and is building a two-storey building as a warehouse and shop.
He is an active member of the United Church and heavily involved in its activities.
“ Hela will change one day and I will not give up in pursuing my dream in the business sector.”
He started in Grade One in 1996 at Hoiyebia Primary and went right up to Grade Eight before attending Hoiyebia High up to Grade 10 in 2005.
Unfortunately, he did not make it to Grade 11. He instead enrolled at the University of PNG Open Campus and upgraded his marks for Grade 11 and Grade 12.
He was struggling to pay his fees between 2006 and 2010.
He worked part-time with the Menduli Trading Limited which is owned by the United Church.
“I baked scones and sold them on the streets. I stayed home and raised money to pay my fees to enroll again at the campus.”
In 2010, he received a letter to attend the Gaulim Teachers College in East New Britain.
After graduating in 2012, he returned to the school in his village where he had received his education. This is his eighth year of teaching at Hoiyebia.
While working as a teacher, he obtained a loan from Bank South Pacific and bought a bus for K68,000. The business is going well and he attends to it after school.
In 2015, he lent K100,000 to a person who promised to repay him with a 50 per cent interest.
“He tricked me. He is yet to give my money back.”
But Wilson did not want to look back. In 2018, he bought a second bus.
“I continue to work hard and today I have a workshop providing various services to light and heavy-goods vehicles.”
He employs 10 villagers to run his bus and garage businesses. He plans to employ more villagers when his business expands further.
“These boys comes from poor family backgrounds and have been struggling to earn a living. Today they support me and are involved in peace-oriented community activities.”
Wilson and fellow villagers try their best to negotiate for peace during tribal fights in other villages, and contribute resources towards compensation ceremonies.
They want a peaceful life and avoid the trouble-makers.
“Currently tribal fights in Hela have subsided due to the presence of police and soldiers working with the provincial government and churches.”
He believes that Hela will gradually change and end tribal fighting which has hindered progress and development so much.
“Hela will change one day and I will not give up in pursuing my dream in the business sector.”