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By Miriam Zarriga in Mulitaka, Papua New Guinea

Little Ima met Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape last Friday during the “haus krai” in Mulitaka, Enga, after the landslide disaster more than a week ago.

His meeting happened when Marape beckoned him to get water from him.

The action of the Prime Minister only moved the boy to be more courageous and in front of about 200 people at the site marked as a haus krai (traditional mourning), Ima did the unthinkable by walking up to the PM and asking him a question.

“Could my friends join me in meeting the Prime Minister?”

Within five minutes of asking, Marape said yes and suddenly the children came from all corners to sit with Marape and his colleagues who had come to see for themselves the devasting impact of the landslide.

Ima had a conversation with the Prime Minister and from the smiles of the PM, Ima had made a good impression on the man who has been faced with a barrage of criticism of late.

Walking into the “haus krai” site Marape choked back tears as he slowly made his way to the front.

Beside him was Minister for Defence Dr Billy Joseph and Enga Provincial Member Sir Peter Ipatas.

Highlighted children’s resilience
His meeting with Ima highlighted the resilience of the children who continue to smile despite the challenges and the changes in their life in the last few days.

Ima and the children have been the centre of attention as those who have come to help have doted on them.

On Thursday, the Queensland Fire Service officers had the children’s attention as the buzz of the drone caught the eye of everyone at Mulitaka.

As an officer with the Queensland fire service brought the drone over to show the children, it was a moment of mad scramble by the children and even adults to see the workings of a drone.

The officer showed Ima and the rest of the children and tried his best to explain what a drone does.

While many are still mourning the loss of loved ones, the smiles on the faces of the children was something a mother said she had not seen in a while.

‘Bringing peace’
In rapid Engan language, she said that “to see her son smile was bringing peace to her”.

Many of the women, girls and children have no clothes, basic necessities, blankets, or a shelter for the night.

Little Ima ended his week smiling after he was granted special access to the PM of this country.

However, for the rest of the children the Mulitaka Health Centre has been assisting providing health care for those who survived the landslide.

Amid the arrival of the Marape, women, girls and children continued to pour in seeking help for minor injuries and sickness.

RNZ Pacific reports that more than 7000 people have been evacuated and the PNG government believes more than 2000 people are buried under a landslip which is still moving, more than a week after the disaster.

Miriam Zarriga is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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