A Jolly Homecoming After 30 Years Away

Christmas is known as the time of the year for presents and family bonding and what better gift to receive than both?

For hard-working man Olale Watigi, this was the moment he could only think of for the past three decades.

Watigi hails from the remote village of Suabi, in the Nomad LLG of Western Province.

What makes his story inspiring is that Watigi is a youth with special needs. He was born deaf with a speech impairment. However, this did not stop the then young man from pursuing a better life. As a teenager in the late 90’s, Watigi left his village and travelled to Kiunga Town on foot, in search of basic services.

His 30-year journey away from home, began when he was fortunately employed as a ‘hausboi’ by a doctor from Simbu Province.  Eventually, the doctor and his family moved back to Simbu, taking Watigi with them. Watigi then moved with the family to Madang, where he would spend the rest of his 30-year journey in Miss Village of North Ambenob District - all without the question of whether he would ever see his homeland again. He remained and lived among the Madang people.

It was not until he became acquainted with a fellow ‘wantok’ from Western, who promised to help Watigi return home and find his family.

The promise was fulfilled on October 7, 2021. An emotional Watigi got to see the red soils of his homeland thirty years later. He now awaits an MAF flight to remote Suabi Village, to reunite with his family.

Press Release