Every success story has its own message, and as the saying goes “You will never understand a person unless you walk a mile in their shoes.” Below is an Inspiring true story of Mr. Henry Kauke. Henry originated from the Manam Island of Papua New Guinea.
It Has All Been Part of God's Plan for My Life - A True Life Story of a Papua New Guinea Man
My name is Henry Kauke, I am from Manam Island in Madang Province Papua New Guinea. I am the second born son of our family of 5 boys and 2 girls and this is my story.
This journey has been a very challenging one and life changing to say the least. For the last seventeen years, I’ve been tried, purified and prepared for the great purpose ahead. During this journey, determination and a spirit of ‘never give up’ grew and became part of me. People I’ve crossed paths with wonder how I have managed to come this far, but I know that it has all been part of God’s plan.
In October of 2004, an eruption on Manam island forced the suspension of school and the repatriation of my family and I onto mainland care centers. Life from here on was interesting. I was around grade 7. Most times, I would attend school on an empty stomach, without uniform, but it was during these times that my hunger for an education sprouted and grew.
This hunger fueled my progression through the middle years of school but sometimes wasn’t enough to silence the hunger I was feeling for a proper meal especially when I was denied meals for not paying administration fees or the embarrassment, I would feel for using others’ leftover bath soap as laundry detergent in communal areas.
These were some of the experiences early in my life which helped instill qualities that would carry me through the later years of my journey. I persevered and graduated grade 12 by the end of 2009.
Now it was the waiting game. Eagerly waiting and constantly checking notice boards and talking with friends, wanting to find out whether I would be selected to progress to the next stage of my educational journey- university!
One afternoon, my phone rang. It was a close friend of mine speaking with sheer excitement, “Your name is on the list of school leavers accepted to the University of Papua New Guinea,” he said. As quickly as I filled with excitement, I was brought back down to earth.
It was that moment which I found most bitter-sweet because, although this was everything I had been working toward, I was uncertain about how my poor parents could afford the hefty tuition fees. I remember my parents returning to the island to grow cash crops to raise funds for my tuition and allow me to pursue my dream.
I registered as a day student and met the many struggles that came with that. I bunked with my father’s family in the city and always found it difficult to ask for anything so I often went without, just to avoid being a burden. I had no stationary, carried a rice bag as a back-pack, no laptop, no prescribed textbooks- I was like a sailing ship with no fuel.
At times I would be completing my assignments and projects in the least ideal settings but despite all of this I successfully completed my foundation year.
I was feeling good about this and I felt like things were finally going my way but this changed at the beginning of the new year- 2011.
My parents sat me down and softly told me that they would be unable to continue paying for my tuition as it was far too much for them to cope with, financially. I withdrew from my studies in Port Moresby. On the 23rd of March 2011, I was at my rock bottom and back at Manam.
While at home, back on the island, I felt as if my dreams were well and truly over. I was an ordinary young person, with nothing to do but to keep busy with gardening and other small jobs here and there.
A few friends, and I travelled to Kimbe where we gave labour jobs in the Oil Palm Industry a go, and I found that Kimbe had a very welcoming and supportive community of people.
A job opportunity presented at the BSP Bank in Kimbe and I applied and shortly after, received an offer to work as a part-time Sales Executive for a 6-month term from June to December 2012.
In 2013, I was struck with some false hope when the local electorate promised to cover tuition for students at university and I was unfortunate to miss out. Depressed and beat I continued living in the village for another few years.
Persistent to make university a reality a few friends and I started a copra SME and we were able to make small but reasonable return before I packed my bags for Rabaul.
Moving on, I met a beautiful girl from East New Britain and we eloped to her home in the inlands of Pomio District. I was told that marrying her was a horrible mistake and it seemed all of my decisions were being criticized by family.
I lost contact with my family for two whole years. I was in the wilderness. My wife was a rock for me, she pushed me to re-apply.
I was accepted for the second time as a non-school leaver and with the generous support and encouragement from my wife and her family and not forgetting mine, in 2020, I successfully completed my degree that I started in 2010.
On the 27th of July, 2021, I officially graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in ICT and Human Resource Management from the University of Papua New Guinea.
My name is Henry Kauke, I am from Manam Island and this is my story.