*Recorded in ‘Tok Pisin’ translated by the Division for Local Level Government, Buka
My name is Roselyn Gatana. I am a women’s leader representing the women of Hagogohe in the Hagogohe Council of Elder which is in the Hagogohe Constituency of Buka District, Bougainville. I am married with 4 Children and have 3 Grandchildren. I will tell you a story of my life. There are 10 of us in the family. My parents cared for us together with my relatives.
In 1977, my father died and that year I could not continue after Grade 6 so I went to a Vocational School at Kihili, a United Church run agency school in Buin, South Bougainville. I stayed 1 year at the Vocational School and learnt a lot of things like, cooking, management and skills that was necessary for women. After I finished, I stayed at a United Church run Bible School and studied for 1 and half years. I came home when I finished and got married to my husband, whom I never courted. The marriage was arranged by both our families. I had little education, which is as far as Grade 6, while my husband was a University graduate. But he was a good man and he supported and mentored me to become a women’s leader. In 1989, an Association for Women of the Bougainville Copper Mine was formed and I was elected as the President until the Bougainville Crises started. I came home and stayed with my husband and 3 children. In 1990, I had my 4th child. The child was delivered at the time when there were no government services available such as health centres, hospitals and schools. The PNG Government imposed a total blockade where all services were cut off from reaching Bougainville.
During that period I became heavily involved in the work of the Church – I became involved with the Sunday School Ministry and the Women’s Ministry. Due to my hard work, the Church ordained me as a Pastor to work with the Women and Children’s Ministry in the Church. Of course there were a lot of problems and challenges; however my husband continued to inspire me to work hard. Today I am so happy because I have achieved a lot of leadership roles and learnt a lot of things in the church, family and amongst my interactions with the community. People have become confident of me been a leader and they have appointed me to represent the women from the Village Assembly into the Hagogohe Council of Elder.
Recently I was also appointed as the Vice Secretary of the Buka Women’s Federation. The greater challenge for me now is get the women organized at the Village Assembly, to the Council of Elder level, to the District, to the Autonomous Bougainville Government level and up to the National Government level. This is what the women want. They want bottom-up planning to empower women to become leaders.
This is what I want to do and this ends the story of my life as a women’s leader.