ROBERT LUKE IROGA

Little Lilly was only few months old when her father Joab (not their real names) left for overseas as an apple-picker under a private scheme arrangement. Joab was extremely excited about the prospect of buying his first car and even building a dream home after his first overseas outing. Before he took to the skies, Joab kissed his little princess Lilly then embraced the warmth of his loving wife before boarding a plane for the first time. Joab promised to phone home as soon as he landed in Brisbane before heading to the countryside where he would be working. With the support of his friends who arranged his trip and picked him at the airport Joab called home to hear the softly sound of his little daughter’s voice at the end of the phone then tenderly said good-night to his dearest wife.

As promised and heavily discussed prior to his departure that on his first pay-day Joab would send half of his salary for his beloved wife and his little queen. He did exactly that two weeks into his new job. Life appeared to be blooming at both ends as money endlessly streamed from Australia and phone calls were regular and sweet. In one of the long phone conversations Joab assured his wife that she should start browsing the net for a Japanese used car and picked the vehicle of her choice and he’ll wire the money for her to purchase it. However in what seemed to be a strange shift, Joab told his wife they’d delay the acquisition of the vehicle for a few more months to allow him to save a little bit more money. His wife happily accepted the suggestion and waited patiently. Interestingly, the phone calls were becoming irregular and the Western Union transfers too had dried up. Joab appeared to lose interest in his lover in Honiara as he found new friends and spent his money on them and alcohol.

He eventually changed his number and used different mobile sim-cards to call his family not on a regular basis as he had used to do. Little Lilly too had began to ask mum why dad had not been calling. She was nearly four years old. Her mother had looked for excuses to tell Lilly that dad would call and he would be sending presents for her fourth birthday. Sadly Joab would not even find time to wish her princess happy birthday and because her mum was unemployed they were unable to celebrate her birthday for the first time.

The wife had began to wonder if Joab was okay and every time she attempted to ring those numbers he used to call her on— they were turned off. For few months Joab had not call his wife and little Lilly. However one day he called and apologized for the long break in phone calls explaining he had moved to a new farm and there was no satellite coverage. Not knowing that Australia has 100 percent mobile coverage the poor mum accepted Joab’s explanation. The dubious love appears to hit the right track again except that there was no money and no regular phone calls. Joab’s wife would go to bed with little to eat and sometimes her relatives would offer financial assistance just enough to keep her and Lilly going for another day.

Each day she would ponder on the huge promises that Joab made which now appeared remote as he hardly called or wired the funds to accelerate the dream.

As a mother she felt something must have gone wrong but was often comforted by her husband’s commitment as a faithful Christian.

However there were signals from Australia from individuals who knew Joab that indicated that Joab had found somebody and moved in to live with her in the main city. He had left his job as an apple picker and now works for her family business. Joab’s wife refused to accept those rumour mills. Not until in the middle of the night when she had already gone to bed and was woken-up by the sound of a text message. She gently opened the message and it read like this: My dear, I am sorry to let you know I have now found an Aussie girl, but you remain my Solo wife. She tumbled on the floor and reached out for her phone with a bleeding heart – hit the reply button but there was no credit for her to urgently reply to her husband’s admittance.

The mother admitted to this magazine that regardless of the actions of her husband she’s struggling in the difficult economic environment in Honiara she just manages to keep her family survive with no assistance from her husband.

Whilst this story may sound ludicrous I have been told there are many husbands who have gone overseas on similar jobs and have not returned.

It is therefore important that the government or faith based organisations look at ways to addressing such victims.