To say he was the proudest man that day would be an understatement.
Vagi Orarigo was at the Government House in Konedobu, to witness his wife, Helen Rupa, receive the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (BEM).
Blending in with the excited crowd, he did a good job at containing his emotions of joy, complete satisfaction and all those other good feelings bubbling within.
To him, the award was the result of her hard work, but for her it was his understanding, confidence, trust, and most of all, love, which helped her achieve the award.
“Beside every successful woman, is a supportive man, and I owe every bit of this award to my very supportive husband. Without him, there is no me,” said Ms Rupa.
Ms Rupa, who is employed as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Infrastructure Officer at PNG Ports Corporation Limited (PNG Ports), was recognized for her services to State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s).
She is a long serving staff member at PNG Ports having clocked 20 years with the Infrastructure Division which is responsible for delivering multi million kina port infrastructural developments throughout the company’s network of 15 ports.
Her work requires extended hours, often under pressure and the work load is immense.
Being the sole bread winner in the family doesn’t make it less stressful, but she does it with the ease of a pro, thanks to her husband.
From chef to chauffer, keeper to fixer, a jack-of-all-trades, he keeps everything together while she worries about her job, says Ms Rupa as she spoke highly of her better half.
“There is never a time when he complained. Without an understanding husband who is always there for me, pushing me to do my best, I would not have lasted this long in my 31-year career as a Personal Assistant,” said Ms Rupa.
Ms Rupa can count herself one of the lucky few women, because these days, men like Vagi Orarigo come in short supply.
As if their life had been one prewritten by fate, the couple, from Pelagai in Aroma, Central Province, share the same birth day on June 25, 1969.
They married on April 17, 1988 and have two daughters aged 29 and 19 and a son, aged 14.
After working 11 years in other companies, Ms Rupa joined PNG Ports on May 19, 1997 as the Secretary to the Chief Engineer to the PNG Harbours Board, the predecessor to PNG Ports.
Maintaining her position, Ms Rupa has worked under seven different bosses in the Infrastructure Division which comprises of the company engineers, architects, builders, and a large team of tradespeople, where her responsibilities have been endless and very vital.
PNG Ports has looked after her well enough that she has purchased a piece of prime land at Rainbow in Gerehu where she has built a home and bought herself a car to make travelling to work and around the city easy.
The recognition given through the BEM honours her hard work and contributions of 31 years in the workforce.
She was the only fortunate one to receive an award out of 2000 other administration professionals that were nominated by Office Dynamics International, a company which specialises in training and skill building.
“I would like to thank Office Dynamics International for the nomination and confidence that I was special,” she said.
“I would also like to thank PNG Ports for being my best employer, giving me the opportunity to attend numerous trainings over the years and grooming me.”
“PNG Ports has changed me through quality trainings, attendance and participating in big admin conferences, and the overall experience with the company has made a big impact for me.”
“I have been working in this field for 31 years and there has never been a single day that I have thought twice about it. My interest in what I’m doing, the willingness to learn and my love for my profession have played a role in the achievement of this award.”
Ms Rupa added that PA’s roles were vital in large organisations and sometimes, handling the tasks was difficult.
“We have to run with things, not sleep on things if you are working with a large team of highly qualified people,” she said.
Asked to rate her proficiency level, she said: “Just say one thing and move out of the way, I’ll do the rest.”
Statement on point, she has never failed her team on the administrative side of things, and the multimillion kina projects have always been delivered on time.
Her eyes are now set on giving more to PNG Ports, the company that has helped her progress in more ways than one.
During the investiture ceremony at Government House, a stranger approached her: “there are many hard working Papua New Guineans out there who commit themselves for the country, and you are one of them. You deserve this award.”
And yes, deserve it, she did.
To the countless long serving teachers, health workers, lone police officers, peace mediators, district officers, and the endless list of tireless patriotic citizens who tough it out in PNG’s harshest remote out backs, everybody contributes their share in nation building.
As Ms Rupa put it: “We all may not know but in all our professions and the little things we do in life, we are playing a role in nation building, and we must all have confidence in ourselves, and do something to drive PNG forward.”
“Whether you receive an award or medal or not, it does not matter, God will reward you. You serve with your heart, for your family and for your country.”