SAD JOURNEY HOME FOR EVICTED PNG SETTLERS

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By Beverly Sangamat

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan.7) – It is sad when people who have lived all their lives in a town are forced to move back to their "province of origin," because they are classified as illegal settlers.

That’s been the situation with hundreds of settlers in Madang, who were forced to pull down their homes, pack their bags, and moved out of land the Madang provincial government has identified for other purposes.

People shed tears because leaving Madang is leaving what has been home for a long time.

Those that were born there know of no other home.

It’s a tough decision, and it makes grown men cry, too. This was the case when more than 500 settlers boarded marine vessel Gulf Glory bound for East Sepik, especially the Sepik River.

The settlers are from the Wagol Banana block, Biliau Maus Rot and the Government Stores settlements.

Kambabra settlers are heading for the Angoram grass country, and the middle Sepik’s Sotmeri, Maringei, Yenchan and Kanganamun village.

They have been residents in Madang for the last 20 years, and made the decision to quit rather than fight the Madang provincial government.

At 10pm Monday night, while Gulf Glory was loading her last batch of passengers, a Sepik woman married to a Madang man found that the husband had decided on the last minute not to board.

At about 10.15pm the mother-of-four was found crying on board when her Madang husband turned back and took all the children with him. He was later seen trying to calm his crying children on the wharf, as the vessel sailed away with their mother.

A 16-year-old teenager interviewed on board said he was leaving without his parents, because he didn’t want to be seen as a rascal every time he moves around Madang town.

"I want to go home where I can be respected and accepted as a person," he said.

There have been many cases of "splits" in families, especially with intermarriages, and that has been the price many families have to pay, on top of finding another home.

January 7, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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