A Journey I Will Not Forget

By Alphonse Gende and Mercy Works, 8 November 2020
Alphonse Gende. Image: Mercy Works/Supplied


Hi! My name is Alphonse Gende and I would like to share with you my life story and the environment Mercy Works Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea, had created for me to cultivate. Honestly, I am emotional. When I write this story, I write with tears. But don’t worry. I am not asking you to cry. Let’s start the story!

I had been through difficult times in my life. I lost my previous job with Triniti FM Catholic radio as an announcer and producer, then, two of my kids had been taken away by nature. My second boy, Joe Gende, was covered by a landslide in the settlement where we live on a rainy day in 2014 and the following year, my first daughter, Rita Gende, was drowned in the Whagi river. In that same year, my wife, Regina Paias, in her third month of pregnancy, was taken away from me by her family. All that was left for me was not even a sunset, but, emptiness.

It was hard for me to think of hope because I was embraced with total darkness. The world became unfriendly and bitter. My friends did not come around to chat with me. I was left alone with my dad in our house. Every day, I asked myself, “Why do terrible things happen to me?”

One day I decided to travel up to Mt Hagen from Simbu to get my books. I thought books would help me. Actually, I went back to the settlement where my son was buried. Also, I was hoping to see my wife but her family did not want me to see her. When I left, I could see her from afar. I experienced hot tears but I had no choice. Slowly, I walked away.

It was already afternoon and I walked down, aiming for the main bus stop, passing through the middle street of Mt Hagen city. I never knew that I would meet Mercy Works. However, right in front of Ross Manga building, at the main entrance to the street, I met Sr Mariska Kua rsm. We shook hands and she mentioned, “I heard about your problem.” I said, “that’s true. Is there anything I can help with, like driving or the media program?” Sister said, “Give me your papers.”

In October 2015, I began working with Mercy Works Mt Hagen and I met the lovely team under the leadership of Sr Mariska Kua rsm, then the team in Goroka and finally the team in Australia.

It has been a great opportunity for me to meet the entire team when we come together for report writing. I learned a lot from the report writing workshop especially the development of the application, the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) methods and the compilation of the entire report.

I love the team and I always thought to myself how can I contribute effectively to the program of Mercy Works.

Sometimes I tried to use my imaginative skills to do things, but then I started learning smaller things effectively. Daily morning prayer, discussing ideas at the table, putting things in the right place, reporting immediately if things go wrong in your possession, tell the truth, respect others, flexibility amongst the team are all very important basics.

I am grateful that MWs has given me the opportunity to grow as a person and become better and meaningful in a life of service.

This year in September, I changed jobs. I am now the Family Life Coordinator of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mt Hagen. I am already using some of the skills I learned from Mercy Works to design program activity for the Catholic Family Life in the Diocese.

On behalf of my family, I especially want to say thank you to Mercy Works Mt Hagen, Mercy Works Goroka and the Board of Directors in Australia, not forgetting Sr Ailsa Mackinnon rsm and her successor, Sr Sally Bradley rsm and Mercy Works PNG & Australia Program Coordinators, Sr Gaye Lennon rsm and her successor, Sr Anne Foale rsm. Thank you so much for your support.

May God richly bless you all and give you renewed health.

Published with collaboration from Mercy Works.


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