The announcement was made early this year while proper mechanisms, including a structure, were yet to be implemented.
While the Morobe Provincial Government (MPG) created ‘Babafi Trust’ to register marginalised women in the 10 districts, including preachers, certain individuals went ahead and started collecting “registration fees” from women.
During a public forum at Tutumang on March 10th, women from Bulolo District said a woman, claiming to be from MPG, had collected over K10,000 from them, including their meri blouses, to ensure that their names are on the payout list.
Around 300 women from Yuweng and neighbouring villages in Markham’s Leron-Wantoat LLG, are facing the same issue. They were told to register with K35, pay for an ID card with K10, and hire a K3 Morobe kolos for the photoshoot.
Yuweng is still recovering from last year’s drought; bananas and taros are months away from harvest, including cash crops like cocoa and coffee.
Kasiam Yampar lost her husband years ago. She said a young woman, also from Yuweng, told the mothers in the village that money belonging to widows is already at Tutumang. All they have to do is pay the requested amount.
“Mipla stragol lo mani,” she said. (We are struggling with money.)
“Man blo mipla dai pinis na bai mipla kisim mani lo we? Mitupla ya, man blo mitupla dai na mitupla nogat mani,” she said, referring to another elderly widow. (Our husbands have already died so where are we supposed to get money? Both of us, our husbands have passed so we have no way of getting money.)
“Mipla go insait lo bus, painim tulip, painim kawawar, na K5 mipla go putim. (We went into the bush, gathered greens and ginger and gave the K5.)
“Bihain em tok, K5 ino inap. Yupla go bek. Mipla go bek insait lo bus, painim kawawar, tulip, mipla go salim. K20 kamap nau mipla go givim. (However, she said the K5 is not enough. We had to go back into the bush. We made K20 from the greens and gave her.)
“Na aste mipla go daun em tok, em bai yupla putim K10 ken. Na mipla kam na hat lo mipla nau. Bai mipla kisim mani we?” (Yesterday we went down, she said we will have to put K10 again. We are finding this difficult. Where are we going to get money?)
Yampar said they listen to this individual because she is educated.
Buntun Ria, who looks to be in her 70s, does not know her date of birth. Her name was removed from the “list” because she was too old and frail to gather greens and ginger to sell.
She said other old women also suffered this indignity as they had no way of getting the requested amount of money. For them, even K5 is too much.
Governor Wenge, who was made aware of this issue, said affected individuals need to place their report for police to make arrests.
“Ol giamanim yu o wokim wanem samting stap lo em, kam ripot,” he said. (If they are lying to you or doing whatever, come place your report.)
“Olsem pastaim mi tok, sampla man ol stap pinis, sampla meri ol stap pinis. Ol tok, mi komiti blo Luther Wenge ya. Mi blo Babafi Trust ya, mi blo Disabled ya, mi blo SME ya. (As I had said, there are men and women out there who claim to be part of Luther Wenge’s committee, or from Babafi Trust, or disabled group or SME.)
“Ol wokim stap na kisim K500, K200, K10 nabaut. Displa ol lain mipla no save lo ol so kam na bai mipla putim lo polis nau. Polis bai arestim ol na lokim lo sel.” (They are doing this and collecting K500, K200 or K10. We don’t know these people so come and we’ll leave this matter with the police. Police will arrest them and lock them up.)