By MALUM NALU
There couldn’t have been a prouder Papua New Guinean father on Friday, Dec 2, 2011, than Wamel Kiage.
|Rebecca Kiage hugs dad Wamel after graduation with her surrogate parents, well-known former Lutheran Missionaries Len and Claire Tscharke|
Kiage, 64, of Masul village in Sinasina, Chimbu
province, was in Adelaide, South Australia, for the graduation of his daughter, Rebecca.
Rebecca graduated from the University College London (UCL) – School of Energy & Resources in Adelaide for the award of a Master of Science – Energy & Resources, Policy & Practices on that day.
“I was a recipient of the Santos Scholarship which enabled me to partake in this study experience,” she tells me.
“There are 10 Santos scholarship awarded globally annually and I am a proud recipient of such scholarship.
“UCL is ranked as one of the top 10 universities in the world.
“This is also the second time for dad to be overseas to witness my graduation as he was with me in Melbourne for three months in 2006, and witnessed my graduation at Monash University, where I was conferred the award Masters of Public Policy & Management.”
Rebecca, who was born in Lae on Aug 12, 1978, did her primary schooling at East Taraka PNG Bible Church, Lae International Primary School and Omili Primary School; Grades 7-10 at Lae High School; and Grades 11-12 at Bugandi Secondary School before going on to the University of Technology, where she graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business Economics in 2000.
She was employed by the Department of Agriculture and Livestock as a policy officer until her resignation in January 2010 when she was awarded the Santos Scholarship.
Kiage arrived for the his daughter’s graduation at Adelaide airport after staying overnight in Brisbane and was picked by Ken Tscharke, son of pioneer Lutheran missionaries Claire and Len Tscharke, good parents of his and guardians of his daughter, and rushed straight to the graduation ceremony which started at 9am.
“All the while,” Rebecca admits, “I did not think he was going to make it but ‘God is good all the time' and the good Lord made sure all was possible.
“I had tears in my eyes when I saw him ushered to his seat.
“It was a day of celebration and I was happy both families - the Tscharkes and him - were present.
“Dad is a person who truly believes in education and how it can make a difference.
“That is why he is so vocal for education, not only for us his immediate children but to all our extended family members and the community in East Taraka, Lae.
“Dad and mum always go out of their way to be the surrogate parents for most drop outs and ensure they are placed back to the formal education system.
“Their house in East Taraka, Lae, is always a full house with kids from all provinces and all walks of life.
“Dad is also a popular figure with all the teachers at Gantom primary school, Taraka Primary School and Bumayong Lutheran High school and the Lutheran academics at Unitech and is respected by them.”
Kiage, who was so happy to meet up again with the Tscharkes, was a very proud man.
“I was so proud because I always rate education very highly,” he said.
“She (Rebecca) was the dux at Bugandi Secondary School (before going on to University of Technology, and then joining DAL after graduation).
“I can see that all my prayers are being answered.”
Kiage did Grades 4-6 at Asaroka in Eastern Highlands where he first met the Tscharkes, founders of the famous Asaroka Lutheran High School, before returning to Kundiawa, and then doing his secondary schooling at Goroka High School.
After that, he joined the then Department of Primary Industry before becoming a veteran Highlands Highway truck driver, clocking up 36 years under his belt.
“I worked with DPI for two years,” Kiage remembers.
“I worked at Kerowagi in Chimbu and Magarima in Southern Highlands.
“I then resigned and took up a job as a Highlands Highway truck driver for 36 years.
“I was with Pagini, Farmset, Cartrans, Hagen Hauliers and many others.
“I have four children and nine grandchildren.”
He urges all parents to bring up their children in a God-fearing Christian environment in which education is a high priority.