For thousands of Papua New Guineans, passing out of grade 12 without securing a place in a tertiary institution or a college usually puts an effective end to their education aspirations and dreams. But for Saku Ank, the current Competition officer for the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League Competition (PNGNRLC), it was different.
Eleven long years after failing grade twelve, the 31-year-old from Wogia in Mendi, Southern Highlands graduated from the prestigious Divine Word University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Management, completing a spectacular rise from failure.
It shouldn’t be this way but most students are under pressure from their families to do well in school in Papua New Guinea. It’s especially tough up in the Highlands as a student. Failure in school usually bring embarrassment to the family and for Saku Ank, the disappointment that he thought he had brough into the family was unbearable.
“I passed out of grade 12 in 2009 and disappointingly didn’t make it to a university or college. I brought shame to my hard-working mum and dad who had high hopes for me. Every day the guilt of betraying their trust consumed me while I stayed home, all my life’s dreams shattered.” said Saku sombrely while remembering his journey.
To mask the pain of failure and humiliation that he felt, Saku turned to drugs and Alcohol. It consumed him and soon he become addicted to this bad habit.
“I resorted to drugs and Homebrew steam (firewara). My dignity as a person was degraded. Every Christmas when my high school mates returned from school, I was so ashamed to see them that I would go down to the banks of the Mendi River and cry my heart out.’’
In spite of the bad reputation, he had accumulated and problems he caused in the community due to his bouts with drug and alcohol addictions, his mother never gave up on him.
“The only person that never gave up on me was my mum and dad. At nights I would hear my mum cry and pray to God to grant me another chance. Listening to those prayers and tears of my mum most nights broke me with guilt.”
After Three years at home Saku came to Port Moresby with a grade 12 certificate that was full of tragedy and disappointments. Mothers are their sons’ biggest supporters and leaving his mom behind at home in Mendi was the hardest thing to do. But he knew he had to do it to revive his education and follow his dreams.
“I left mum but God gave me another queen in Port Moresby. I came to live with my in-law Margret Posu, who gave me the best treatment and encourage me to keep believing in myself. With the influence of Margret, I change my life and accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour.’’
Things started to change for Saku Ank whose humbling experiences had thought him lessons about hard work and perseverance. In 2013 he enrolled at Institute of Business Studies to do Certificate in Computing and successfully graduated. Following year, he enrolled at International Training Institute and completed Advanced Diploma in Accounting, graduating in 2015. All this was funded by the TVET Scholarship Program.
“Thank God, there was still some funds available from my TVET Scholarship program so I continue to do Diploma in Management in 2016,” Recalled Saku.
In 2017 Saku was recruited by then PNGNRLC Manager Stanley Hondina to work as an Admin Assistant. He has since worked his way up the ladder to be the PNGNRL competition officer throughout 2019 and 2020 Digicel Cup seasons.
Saku applied for the Bachelor in Management Programme for 2019 Academic year in December 2018 at Divine Word University Port Moresby Campus. He was finally accepted.
“I took the acceptance letter home that night and cried to God for finally opening the door for me to enroll in a university and continue the pursuit of my dreams.
“Was a hard road to here but the feeling is sweet now. It took me 11 years to make my goal a reality, I wouldn’t have done it without the grace of God and the Two Queens he blessed me with.”