Mary Ann Tousala
Recorded in ‘Tok Pisin’ translated by the Division for Local Level Government, Buka
I will tell you my life story of how I became a leader representing women within my home Council of Elder, which the Halia Council of Elder. I finished from Primary School and then went on to College. I attended the Arawa School of Nursing to become a nurse; however I was expelled as I assaulted a sick man after he swore at me. I came home and got married. I was not happy with the arrangement as I did not get married to the man I was courting. I did not want to just get married and waste the education I had so I was sent to a Bible College in the Eastern Highlands of PNG. I came home and was dedicated in 1990 as the first female Pastor of the East Buka Circuit of the United Church. I worked for a time as Pastor and due to my leadership quality I was nominated by the church to represent women at Buka District Women’s Council. I was later removed from being a Pastor as the Church thought I was involving in too much politics involving women’s issues at the government level.
I was not happy with the decision of the church as I thought they did not have respect for me. But anyway, I started to involve in partying and dancing, maybe I wanted to get back at the church for what they did to me. I know it was wrong to do that. But there were better things for me as I was later elected by the women as the Vice President of the Bougainville Women’s Council. I was thrilled with the appointment as I knew that I had leadership qualities. You cannot experience better things in life as I later found out. My brother and his son passed away in a month which was devastating for me and my family. However I managed to overcome the grief, as I looked back at how I continue to achieve many things as a leader for women. I attended a lot of workshops and forums organized by the NGOs for women and learnt a lot of new things to build my capacity as a leader. In 2003, I contested the election for the North Bougainville seat for Women representing women of North Bougainville in the Autonomous Bougainville Government. I lost but came 3rd. It was a good feeling that I can still achieve much. I was elected the President of the Halia Women’s Council and automatically became a representative for women to the Halia Council of Elder.
One of my greatest achievements in life is that I still am a good mother. I have all my children attending schools and colleges. The other is managing the women’s organization to ensure it works effectively and sustains itself to meet the needs of women. I have tried to sustain the needs of my children by selling market produce. It has helped me meet my children’s needs and help me meet travel expenses like attending ,meetings and workshops for programs targeting women. One of my visions is to help sustain the work of the women’s organization in Halia. The women must raise funds to sustain our operations. One initiative I have undertaken in the last 3 months is to produce potatoes and market them to public servants in Buka and also to any interested groups and individuals.
The Women’s group have drawn up a schedule where we produce and market the potatoes. The money that we raise will help meet the needs of the women. I have brought 10 baskets on my way to this interview program which I have already sold to the public servants in Buka. By doing this, we are in one way reducing poverty and giving women an opportunity to realize their full potential to make our home a better place. This is the life time story of me. Thank you