Former convict loses all, never gives up

After spending a decade in prison, 35-year-old Steven Tabogani returned to the outside world only to find that no door would open for him.

Though he was shot in both knees whilst attempting to escape, Tabogani never gave up hope.

He is part of the six people living with disabilities who are taking part in the PNG Fashion and Design Week Festival workshop that is underway in Milne Bay Province.

Tabogani came out of prison in 2017 after serving time for murder.

Whilst he was in prison, his wife left with his 13-year-old daughter.

Tabogani’s greatest desire is to support his growing daughter; a piece of his former life that he still very much wants to be a part of. But with the odds stacked against him, all he could do was pray for a break.

“Whole life blo mi, mi bin lusim skul while on the run,” he shared with this newsroom. “So skul pinis na taim ol sutim mi, mi go karabus na kam, mi nogat wanpla save we mi ken helpim mi (yet). Ol sutim tupla lek blo mi. Nogat wanpla samting bai helpim mi.”

However, a ray of hope shone through for him in the form of the fashion workshop, where he and 42 other participants are eagerly learning about fashion design and garment and textile construction.

“Taim mi kam na lainim sampla samting nau, em niupla samting lo mi. So mi pilim olsem disla ol samting bai helpim mi.”

Now that he is looking forward to being his own boss in the SME sector, the 35-year-old wants his peers and those who are living a life of crime to know that there is an end to everything.

“Kraun nonap stap lo het blo king oltaim,” he stated. “Wanem laif yu chus lo em – whether yu stap lo opis o yu stap lo kraim – one day we will go down. I gat gutpla blo laif stap. Learn to live lo gutpla wei.”

The fashion program, funded by the PNG-Australia Partnership, started on Monday, October 12th, and is set to end on the 27th.

(Steven Tabogani)

Carmella Gware