Meet Nathan, Steward and Nixon my new friends. It is just another ordinary day for them hanging out with each other. My other friend in red shorts decided he was sick when I asked for his name.
On our way to find magistrate Bernard Siloi they told me about how police had come to their settlements and burnt down their houses in July. We are not from here but have come to live near where we can access services, especially school.
As we walked they pointed to the remains of the houses that were burnt. "The police came and burnt our houses and cut down our fruit trees and even dug up our gardens. We were scared and ran to the bush,” said 12 year old Nathan.
They are part of about 300 people who were recently forced out of a land area currently under RD Tuna Canners title. This land has drawn a lot of controversy as it is being developed while landowners want this land (their land) back.
“Many evicted settlers have left and returned to their villages but those of us who are still here are hanging with relatives and friends. We are here because we want school,” said Steward.
The three boys said they will run if police returned. They said all they want is to be able to go to school.
As PNG eyes development growth every year hundreds of children like these are pushed to the edges; their dreams challenged every step of the way. Many must take time off of school to help make ends meet. Many have chosen to stay out of the classroom as the burdens of life takes its toll on them but as living beings they must find ways to stay alive.
Nathan, Steward and Nixon are spending their holidays mourning the loss of their friend but also happy that they know next week they will go back to school.
On our trip today we met young Siloi and his sisters helping their father make roofing mats for their new house after they lost their house in the eviction fires in July. Siloi's father, Bernard, who has been magistrate for 12 years now of Ward 8 of North Ambenob in Madang Province was also woken rudely that July morning as he stood watching his house burn to the ground.
Young Siloi is building his house with his father and hopes that the police will not come again.