My name is Julie and I was born on Christmas day 1959. My small village is Posenami in the Kokoda COE, Kieta District. I attended Koromira Primary School from 1969 to 1974 and then I was chosen to go to St.Mary’s High School in Asitavi. My parents and my relatives tried to stop me from going to school and instead wanted me to get married, but I refused. So from 1975 to 1976 I was attending High School in Asetavi. I went as far as Grade 8, I was accepted into Grade 9 but by then my parents had stopped me from going to school to get married. But I didn’t listen to anybody and instead ran away with a different man. We had seven children together.
During the crisis, there were no services in the urban areas and we left our villages and relocated to the bush to go into hiding. We stayed there for almost five years. In 1994 I was trained as a teacher and I taught children in the bush. When we stayed in the bush, it was a very enjoyable time despite the conflict around us.
In 1995, my husband went to Honiara, the following year we went and stayed with him. I was also sent to train as a literacy teacher. I used to teach the Bougainville refugees in Honiara. In 1999, my children and I returned to Bougainville. I wanted to return to my homeland because I really love Bougainville. My husband didn’t want us to return but I went anyway. From 2000-2006, I worked as a literacy trainer in Bougainville and all that time I was struggling to secure peace and to make ends meet for my children because by that time my husband had left us and he had married another woman. I was very upset and I went twice to Honiara to talk to him but he didn’t listen and so I came back.
In 2012, I became a village chief; I was chosen to be an executive member of the COE. From there I was elected to be Kieta District Women’s Federation President.
There are so many challenges that come with being a member a COE. It’s so hard when the people do not listen to you. Sometimes you don’t feel like working and want to give up but to be a leader you have to lead on and face the problems. And sometimes, some of them will accuse you of not working properly and all sorts of things like you are not leading the people properly and most times they are jealous and come up with all kinds of things and criticism. I just put my head down and continue to walk strong.