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Originally produced for UNICEF
Rihana, aged 11 years, from the Habanya tribe was with her family near Um Rawaba when she told me her story.
There are ten children in my family, seven girls and three boys. The oldest is my sister who is fourteen and the youngest is a baby of seven months. We older children have to help a lot. I wash the clothes and dishes, clean the house, look after my younger brothers and sisters and help to take care of the sheep and goats. It is my job to see that the baby animals feed from their mothers and then I have to tie up the teats of the mothers so that they don’t give all their milk away. I know how to do this because my father showed me how. It’s very easy
When I was eight years old my father told me that there would be a school in our community and that I was going to be one of the students, along with four other children in the family. My older sisters did not go. They were needed to help my mother at home, but they were allowed to go to the literacy class in the afternoons.
I had heard of school and knew that this was where children learned to read and write but I had never been to one before. Our teacher is a lady from Um Rawaba who has come to stay with our community. She even comes with us when we go on the migration. She is a very good teacher and we have learned a lot. She says that we are learning better than the children who go to the Basic School. The Basic School is miles away from here. Some of the boys from our community used to go there but none of the girls did.
I am now in Grade Four and I like going to school very much. Education means science and science means that you have to use your brain and think a lot. I like thinking and reading and want to continue with my education but I want to do it here in the community. I don’t want to go far away. I want to stay near my family. I keep on asking my teacher and my parents, “What will happen after Grade Four? How will I be able to continue?”
They haven’t been able to tell me yet but they say, inshallah, God Willing, it will happen.
|Out of War|
|Papua New Guinea|