Today was absolutely amazing!
It was like pieces of a puzzle coming together in a perfect fit.
It started early on Wednesday morning…2am PNG time and midday in Atlanta, Georgia. I got a Whatsapp message from the EMTV News boss, Neville Choi, who is currently in the US meeting with CNN.
The message went something like: “…sitting in session with CNN ‘Impact your World’ by their special projects team… etc… just got inspired…”
My reply was: “Yes! Lets do this… We need heros.”
After that short reply, I was just about to go to sleep when an early morning rant came to mind. I thought about the people we needed to inspire. Young people in their teens… boys and girls in school, aged the same as my two older kids.
It came as a burst of mental energy and I posted on Facebook: “Secondary school kids are in such a rush to grow up. Please don’t be in a hurry. You currently live rent free. You don’t have to pay for food, water or transport. You don’t have to change diapers at 3am and take a child to hospital for a fever. Your health is at its peak. Your athletic abilities are still developing. Don’t muck it up by smoking, drinking and having pseudo-married relationships that lead to sex. Adulthood ain’t what you imagine.”
The early morning rant got 470 shares and 76 comments!
Among the comments, veteran EMTV director, Bill Allingam Kamaki, suggested that we needed to get get this message to schools in Lae City. Neville Choi commented saying: “…what Bill Allingam Kamaki said…”
I thought little of it until this morning when I was heading to work. Sylvester Gawi inboxed asking to borrow a hair clipper. Totally unrelated. He further went to to tell me that he was going to speak to students at Bugandi Secondary School at 1.30pm.
Me: “Great! Can I come too?”
Gawi didn’t reply.
As we neared the office, I scroll through the comments again. This time, I see a message from Jane Kenni inviting me to attend a 1.30pm meeting at Bugandi.
“Scott, please come to Bugandi at 1.30pm as your input is very valuable…”
Coincidence? No. Thing is, if you focus on something that is good and just, the whole universe will adjust itself to fit your goals.
A guru told me once, “In India we have a saying… Whatever you want to do, go and do it and the universe will come and help you.”
So… 1.30pm and we are at Bugandi. But my mind was worried. Because we had a 3pm job during which Mapai would launch 10 new trucks. An important occasion and seemingly unconnected to Bugandi and motivational talks.
Two other speakers, then Gawi spoke about his experiences as a former student and about how he struggled through his early years with his mother’s sudden passing. (Gawi later lost his dad as well). Students gave him their full attention.
Here in front of them, was a young guy who had been there and done it. Struggled, believed and survived. Making reference to the intricacies of school fights, groupings and peer pressure, his talk was powerfully truthful. He made people uncomfortable. But it needed to be said the way he did.
My turn came.
I wasn’t a former student. Nor did I spend my high school years in Lae. But this was a city I grew up in and came back to. A city which I saw deteriorate and slowly and painfully being rebuilt by key influential figures and the community itself.
I spent the time talking about the talents of the kids. Their talent in organising and harnessing their energies. If there is one thing they must do, it is to never underestimate their own strengths and talents.
“If you are good at something you love, focus your energies on it. Develop it.”
Another thing: “The 12 years of basic education is important even if you don’t like it. Learn English. Learn well so you can talk to people outside this country with confidence. Learn it well, so you won’t be cheated and lied to by people who understand the intricacies embedded in the language. Think independently. Analyse and think outside the box.
They reminded me of me – a dyslexic misfit who didn’t like sitting in class because my mind roamed elsewhere.
They sat silent and attentive, I ranted on about the danger of being poorly educated serfs in a system that enslaves the mind into being obsessed about getting a job after school. Reality in Papua New Guinea is that ‘guaranteed formal employment after school’ is a myth and you get no support from the government.
I wanted them to see the possibilities of entrepreneurship and to do it while they are young. To fail big and be unafraid….To put aside the demands of family and the need for status associated with a ‘job.’
I said if they wanted to take control of the economy, they had to start thinking about starting businesses and working for themselves instead of working for someone else.
What if each one of them started a business and employed their brothers and sisters and two classmates?
We went on to talk about teenage pregnancies and how as guys, we needed to take responsibility, respect women and make the right choices. It’s difficult. But I wanted them to see it before it happened.
Somehow the meeting ended at 2.45pm. Just in time for the job at Mapai Transport.
As we went into the Mapai yard, a prayer was just ending. Jacob Luke the owner of Mapai, took the stage and talked about the successes of the company and the difficulties.
Here was a Papua New Guinean millionaire, deceptively small in stature but a GIANT in the transport industry. He had just spent 8 million kina on 10 brand new Kenworth trucks at a time when the economy is tough.
Then Mr. Luke did something only a Papua New Guinean would understand.
He announced that he had just registered 10 new companies under the names of 10 long serving drivers. He gave each of them keys to trucks in the older fleet. Each truck worth over K600,000.
The divers will work as subcontractors to Mapai. Several birds with one stone – PNG owned companies, family ownership, involvement of the women and guaranteed contacts to a large PNG company.
But before handing over the keys, Jacob Luke said… “I want your wives to come and get the keys because the trucks belong to them.”
As I listened, my head was spinning as I mentally recounted the chain of seemingly unrelated events that happened to me over the past 36 hours.
We spoke to kids at Bugandi about taking lead and caring for the country…
…about Papua New Guineans owning the economy and owning their destiny….
…And I had just walked into a presentation by a Papua New Guinean success story who had just given generous gifts to his drivers and, at the same time, encouraging the men to realize that their women and their families are very important if a family business is to survive!
There’s more to talk about but there’s no time and space. Tonight, my head is still spinning and I have a headache. The blessings that I received today have been truly unbelievable!