Everyday People PNG : Mactuawe Stafford

I was just two years old when World War II started.

I was born on May 15th, 1941. I’m from Butibam village in Morobe Province.

My late father, Dr Gware, would take me with him on his bicycle and we would go to a field hospital located at Second Seven where he treated Melanesians and Asians because they were not allowed at ANGAU at that time.

I would sit at the bed of these injured soldiers and sing and converse with them in tok ples Yabim. Though they did not understand me, just my presence made them happy.

After my rounds, they would heap food and gifts on us and we would go back home to a mountain called Lusaung, which is past the Busu bridge. It was only in 1947 that we moved down to Butibam and I started my education at the Yabim Tok Ples School at Ampo.

During that time, a health centre was built at Malahang and my dad started working there. He built a house for us at Butibam and built himself an aid post there as well.

He worked at his aid post until his passing in 1959.

As he was the only doctor who used to operate within the Lae district – he worked during the war with Asians, the army, and he also trained people to become medical orderlies – he was recognised and had an ANGAU hospital wing named after him, the “Gware Memorial Wing”.

He left behind six children; three boys and three girls. I am the fifth and the only living child.

My late elder sister, Wendy, settled at Sipaia with her husband, my late brother Beep went up to Ialibu and trained as an evangelist, my late brother Muttu was the chief of Lae and did a lot of good work for the people of Ahi, and my late brother Timothy trained as a technician.

I became a teacher and was teaching for 12 years until 1974, when we were preparing for independence. I was sent to Porebada to create a program and structure for women’s council.

I then returned and became a member of the independence committee.

On September 16th, 1975, we convoyed around Lae then went to the provincial government, lowered the Australian flag and raised our flag.

I started the Union Pre-School at Papuan Compound in 1970 and was there until 1973. From ’74 to ‘76, I was the president of the Lae Women’s Association.

I helped set up the Wagang Geyamsao group in 1976, and was the Bowali Community School treasurer between 1976 and 1981.

I was a member and executive of various women’s groups such as the Morobe Women’s Council, Asiawe’s Women’s Group, Butibam and Geyamsao.

I was recruited as community auxiliary police in 1991 as Constable Mactuawe Stafford, registration number 0103. I was commonly known as “abung polis meri”.

I am now 80 years old. I don’t eat red meat; only chicken and fish boiled in water.

Carmella Gware