Don Bosco Technical School, Gabutu, PNG, 19 August 2022 -- I am Elijah Timbalu, aged 22, and was born on the 28th of August, 1999, in a small village called Goma in SinaSina Yongmul District of Chimbu Province. My father is Benjamin Kaupa who was a primary school teacher and my mother Lucy Kaupa is a home-maker. I am the eldest of three siblings. I have a younger brother after me and a small sister. Life seemed promising for my family because my daddy was teaching in one of the primary schools in the remotest part of Eastern Highlands Province. We had a normal and peaceful life within the family bond, and we did not have much problem with health or finances. However, in 2008, my dad was very ill and was admitted to Goroka General Hospital because his health was deteriorating. He bought all kinds of medicines, including the locally-made herbs, to get a fast recovery, but he eventually lost his eye-sight. We heavily depended on him for paternal love and economic supports for basic needs, including my education.
My father’s early resignation from teaching
My dad became completely blind when his two eye lenses became abnormal. He could not teach anymore, so we had to migrate to Goroka town to seek medical attention and family assistance but none of our relatives came to assist my father when he sought financial or material assistance. It was a quite difficult situation in the settlement where you would expect an unhealthy environment that did not match with our normal life during my dad’s teaching days. I got mixed up with the other settlement kids; by then my dad was no longer teaching. I missed two years of education due to Dad’s poor health. One day, Daddy told us that he would go to Port Moresby. The purpose of his planned trip was not clear to me because I was still small, but I told him to buy a bicycle for me and he agreed. However, a huge parental responsibility was placed upon my mother who hadn’t had much opportunity to generate income because my dad went for resignation from the Teaching Service Commission. I was supposed to be doing grade five but I repeated grade four because for a whole year we did not have a proper home and income.
A University student from Hela Province
One day, in fact, I was really hungry and almost starving to death so I was just playing with the wooden, battery-wheeled trolley near the students’ university mess hall. Surprisingly, someone was calling me from the back: Uncle!’ He was a stranger, and in return I gave him a huge smile. He took me to the dormitory and allowed me to consume the food. He told me that his name was Mathew Timbalu and he was from Hela Province. Miraculously, Mathew Timbalu became my daddy, and his dormitory became my new home. Some months later, my biological dad returned from Port Moresby and he brought my bicycle and stuff like that for the entire family. With much excitement, I told my dad that I had a new (student) daddy from Hela Province. My family organized a huge dish (food) for Mathew Timbalu and his friends with whom I was staying in the dormitory. Mathew told my family and me that he would come back and pick me up during his graduation which he did. After the graduation, he took me to Hela province and I did grade 5 to grade 10 in Tari, where my daddy Mr. Mathew Timbalu was teaching until 2017. I have never mastered Simbu culture nor language, but I can fluently speak Huli language (Huli Bi) from Hela Province much better than the local language in the place of my birth. It has been twelve years since I have become Mathew Timbalu’s son, and I call his parents ‘bubus’. I really admire Mr. Mathew Timbalu, who is my daddy now, because he has done so much for me to ensure that I went to school and I have received the sacraments (Baptism, Confession, Communion and Confirmation) in the Catholic Church. He has disciplined me to become who I am today.
Mother Mary brings us to Don Bosco Technical School
In 2018, my daddy Mathew Timbalu left Hela Province because he secured a teaching position in Mainohana Catholic Secondary School in Central Province. He taught there for a year, and the following year (2019) he secured a teaching position in Don Bosco Technical School until 2020. My daddy Mathew left teaching and now he is taking up studies for the priesthood in the Catholic Seminary, Bomana. At the moment, I am doing Grade 12 in Don Bosco Technical School, Gabutu, in the National Capital District. Obviously, it is Mother Mary who has brought Daddy Mathew and me to study in Don Bosco Technical School. I feel humbled and confident that the patron of youth, St. John Bosco, always intercedes for me and for all the Bosconians who may also have gone through similar fate like me so that we may also find the maternal consolations, comforts, joy and affection of Mother Mary. I am so inspired by the life of Don Bosco through the dedicated and friendly Salesian educators and the spiritual guidance of the Bosconian cooperators, religious brothers and priests.