The liklik meri from Lae: part two – growing up

Angela Roypo is 28 years old from a small, remote village close to Gulf province in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the first part of her bittersweet fairy tale she shared a life of challenges and mistreatment, but through her misfortune came a chance meeting that transported her to another town. In her own words, Angela shares what her new life in Madang had in store. This is her story…

In 2004 my new life began in Madang. This was a hard move for me as I had never been to the coastal town before and I was moving further away from my Father. I was also worried that I didn’t know this man very well and I didn’t know if he was going to treat me right. I left Lae with so many questions. I hoped that I would be happy with him but so much was unclear.

We lived together in Madang for three years and everything was fine, he looked after me very well and gave me everything that I needed. My life started to change and I started to learn new things and meet new people. I started to slowly forget about all the bad experiences that I had gone through with the people that I had lived with previously in Lae.

Angela 04

After three years I fell pregnant with my first son.   He was unplanned but it was something that I wanted, despite only being 19 years old. I always dreamed for my first child to be a boy because of what happened with my brothers. During the time that I was pregnant, the company that Peter worked with started to pay him less as business wasn’t going well and our life got harder; sometimes there was no food in the house. At this time the Manam volcano erupted and people living there were displaced and had to move to care centres. Peter decided to go to speak to them to help the relief effort and to see if there was any work that he could do to support them.

“Living in the dense bush I continued to grow, cutting timber for the care centre, until I was six months pregnant.”

When I was three months pregnant we left town and moved to Malala on the North Coast of Madang, which was three hours from town. We moved into the bush which was a long walk from the road, it took me around three hours to get to where our house was and we lived there for four months. Living in the dense bush I continued to grow, cutting timber for the care centre, until I was six months pregnant. After two weeks from returning to town we were told that our house was being sold; we had nowhere to go as neither of us were from Madang. We started to look for somewhere that we could live. I was just living, hoping and trusting in God that someone would accept us. During this time Peter’s work permits expired so we were at high risk and I was so scared that he would have to leave.

Angela 03

One morning when I woke I was so hungry that I had to speak to his friends to get some money but they knew that he wasn’t working. I decided that I would have to set up a small market to get some money for food so I borrowed K30 (£7) from a lady who was a micro-finance loan lender. I went out of town to buy some fish from a friend at a local fish plant. He felt so sorry for us that instead of selling us 2-3 fish he gave us a whole bag. From that bag of fish I made K600 (£142). I felt so blessed. After getting that money I started to think about what I’d do to make it even bigger. I gave half of the money to Peter so that he could fix his papers and the rest I changed into K20 (£5) notes and I started to give small loans myself, adding K3 (75p) onto each repayment.

With this new, entrepreneurial spirit, I then decided to set up a small store inside our compound. We cut a hole in the fence and I sold buai, cigarettes and cooked lamb flaps. There were a lot of businesses close to where we lived so I was making around K200 (£48) a day. I was heading to the market at least once each day and at the end of the day my goods were all sold. Peter was so happy that I bought him back to Madang as I had helped him out of the situation. We were able to stop worrying again.

“We were so happy; we were living with one heart and one mind. We shared everything and all was going so well.”

But not for long, as after two months we were told that we had to leave and we still didn’t have a place to move to, and now I was eight months pregnant. One morning we heard a knock at the door and it was a missionary Filipino man that I knew from my church. He had heard that my partner was a civil engineer and that he could fix palm boats. He left with the man and told me that he would return with some food. In just one day he was able to fix the two boats that no one else could fix. In return the man let us come and stay with him in their house in New Town. It was a very big house with a houseboy and they offered Peter permanent work. I felt like my prayers had been answered.

FernandoWhen we moved to the house I started to go to church with the old Filipino lady. I stopped smoking and chewing buai; I changed. With these changes, life became easier. We lived with them for three months and on 21st May, Fernando was born. We were so happy. I believed that as soon as the baby was born Peter would find a really good job. After just a week of Fernando coming into the world, Peter got a call from a gold mining company. He set up a business under my name and started work as a contractor. At the end of the month we were receiving K1250 (£300). He would be away for one month and then back home for two weeks. Everything happened so fast. We were so happy; we were living with one heart and one mind. We shared everything and all was going so well.

As Fernando was growing, so was the money in our bank account. In PNG we believe that if you are a real women you will make your man proud so I felt that I needed to contribute. This is the thought that I had in my heart. I was already managing the money but I was able to save. But during this time Peter had been hiding some of his thoughts from me. He told me that he had to have another trip to Port Moresby (POM) to sort out his papers. I trusted him and he went to POM for a week of his next break. On the day that we dropped him at the airport, Fernando turned six months old. When we were leaving him, Peter was really sad and started to cry. I couldn’t understand why as he said that he was only going for one week. The way that he was reacting was very strange. I questioned him but he just said that he would miss him very much.

After a week I called him and he said that he was still waiting for his papers. After another week I had the same conversation. This continued until Fernando was close to a year old. The truth is that he was in a relationship with another PNG lady. I waited for a few more months but he never came back. During this time he started to withdraw all the money in the company account until there was just K800 (£190) left. At this time I was so young I didn’t realise what was happening and I trusted him. He spent all of our money with that lady and then he got another job and started to make a family with her. From six months to nine years old I have looked after Fernando all by myself. Fernando has never met him. He has spoken to him on the phone, sometimes on his birthday. He just calls him when he feels like it. He still lives in POM with his second wife and five children. He has never explained to me why he left. His new wife has called me and sworn at me but I have never said any bad things to her.

I have now been in Madang for 12 years…

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One thought on “The liklik meri from Lae: part two – growing up

  1. Pingback: The liklik meri from Lae: part three – from an empty book | A lil' bit of pickle in PNG

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