Anuta PeoplePeople of Anuta
The autobiography of Sister Lilian Takua Maeva of Anuta, Solomon Islands, the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Church of Melanesia (2000)
The autobiography of Sister Lilian Takua Maeva of Anuta, Solomon Islands, the Community of the Sisters of the Church and the Church of Melanesia." Throughout her brief lifetime, she affected tens of thousand people in the Solomon Islands and abroad. He was an important figure on his home isle and in the church of Melanesia, as well as one of the most powerful woman in the Solomon Islands' history].
was an anthropological scholar and led field work on Anuta, a Polish Isle in the Temotu province of the Solomon Islands. It has been the Anuta Mothers' Union involviert. Apart from her apparent dedication to the congregation, however, she did not seem to be very different from other young Anutans.
I didn't notice then her keen mind, her unwavering bravery, her subtle empathetic mind and her deep dedication to a ministry-live. The high priestess of Temotu Lilian Province in 1977 gave Lilian the possibility to visit an ecclesiastical formation centre on the Santa Cruz Islands and she took the opportuin.
She had never been away from home and did not speak any languages other than Anutan - not even pidgin English (pijin) in the Solomon Islands. Finally, she entered the Community of the Sisters of the Church (CSC), where she soon took a leading role due to her calm trust, responsible attitude and wise organisational talent.
During my third trip to the Solomon Islands at the end of the 1980', she was the responsible nurse for the Solomon Islands. She became one of the most travelled and adored ladies of her country. The Church of Melanesia was present at meetings in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain. For two years she provided spiritual and welfare care to the needy in a CSC fellowship in England.
When she returned to the Solomon Islands, she worked to build shelters in the German Empire for battered and abused mothers. In 1999 and 2000, when battles erupted between tribal peoples from Guadalcanal (the Isatambu Liberation Front) and the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF), she often went to the front and stood between the enemy forces to prevent them from being afire.
Because of all this Lilian stayed in touch with her home parish and supported the upbringing and the developement of her. The Commission was planning to set up a merchant company for shellfish which could make resources available for developing the Comunity. It had a vision of a shop that would supply Anutans with goods that had been brought in between the visit.
It has been part of the administration of the Isadore Feinberg and Rose S. Hartmann Feinberg Memorial Anuta Scholarship Fund, which was launched in November 2000. After Cyclone Zoe in 2003, she worked to help Tikopia and Anuta. Fifteen Generations ago, since Nau Ariki, the female author has seldom taken on leading positions in this area.
RF: Well, I thought you could begin your live on Anuta. I' ve had two nurses in front of me, and I' m the third in the group. Russian: Your older nurses were Poraukakeâ?¦? In 1970 my mom once beaten me up because I didn't take care of my little sibling.
You were in Anuta at that point I had a slump with my family. An older Temotu clergyman came and asked me if I wanted to go to a practice centre to train for the school. He was the high preacher of Temotu at the age.
RV: The kind of experiences you describe with your host families happens very often on Anuta, where families hit their cubs? RB: You said when you were still alive on Anuta, did you think you wanted to do some kind of work for the churches? I' ve always been interested in community work, especially among the elderly, the undesired kids, the unintended pregnant women and the troubled women.
I' ve always worked to help the needy. Although I was a young woman, I worked with the Mothers' Federation to help young women with issues and older people. This is why the clergyman, Father Ellison, asked me to go to practice. Whenever he came, he saw me working with these people, so he asked me if I wanted to go to practice, and I would.
RF: Was there a certain someone on Anuta who was interested in you and thought that you would be a good man to work for the churches? There were no cultured girls at home then, so they took everyone who was willing to do the work of the Mothers' Federation.
So, I drove on from there until I went away from home to come to the practice centre. However, my primary work was with wives, young maidens and old people. I didn't have many belongings when I came to the centre. By the time I came to Santa Cruz, the ecclesiastical education centre was in the Lueseleba grammar schools.
RF: But it worked for the churches? We have our own programme. Luckily, they had a tutor from Tikopia. Worked as a trainer at the school. LT: 1977 was my first year at the school. I' been through a difficult period to study.
However, the centre did not really help me to talk English. At the end of the first year I could not really comprehend what I was doing at the Lueseleba School. Tikopia and I came with a boyfriend of mine - a woman from Tikopia who did the same kind of workout as me.
We' re going back to Santa Cruz, to the training center. However, when we came to the Pamua Training Center, we found out that they had the same programme; and they asked me to be there. They arranged something for me between them and the Lueseleba Training Center employees, so I remained in the Pamua Training Center to finish my two years there.
When I finished my year in Pamua, my English had been improving and I could comprehend the importance of what I was studying. The same at the Lueseleba Training Center. When I came to the Pamua Training Center, there were some friendships to make with there.
Finally I began to make good company with other women from other isles. but not enough to have a talk. In November 1978, at the end of this year, I got a note from the Sisters of the Church in which they asked me if I wanted to join them.
This was due to a meeting with one of the Pamua Trainer Team. Then the co-worker came and talked to the sisters and said that I was interested in the work of the Congregation. This is how I came to the sisters - through one of the teachers in the school.
I came to the Sisters of the Church in November 1978. Towards the end of those two years I went to the sisters. I really began my training with the sisters. This year, when I came to the sisters, they immediately began elementary school: So, I began like a child when I came to the sisters.
For all the women who came to the sisters at that age it was prohibited to talk Pijin or language. Later the nurses asked me to use the lexicon. I was able to really understand after another two years with the sisters. Russian: Where did you get your education with the sisters? LT: East of Honiara, in Tenaru, behind the Apostolic Center of Nazareth.
In 1972, when I was here before I went to Anuta, I remained with some people in Tenaru, in the Catholic Centre. There was an English training centre out there. LT: The Sisters of the Church reached the Solomon Islands on Christmas Eve 1970.
until they found this place in Tenaru. That was when they began founding the town. We were twelve from all the Solomon Islands, and I was from Anuta. We' had five Vanuatu chicks.
I' ve learnt "real" English with the sisters. REF: So you would not have had the chance to talk, even if you wanted to betray from there. No Tikopians or Anutans. Not like now, we have Tikopia and Anuta sisters. RV: How old were you when you abandoned Anuta?
Several of the sisters questioned that I would be able to really talk and study English. Finally, the sisters registered me for an English course at the USP Center. Then I was trained in mathematics, arithmetic and bookkeeping â?¦, how to handle cash â?¦ all when I was with the sisters.
Then, in 1984, the sisters at Honiara Secondary School registered me when they had a school for clerk. That' s how it was, and now I'm able to do clerical work - for the sisters here, like that. RF: And it was the work of the sisters that interested you from the beginning?
I only heard about the sisters' work towards the end of my second year in Pamua. RF: So in Pamua and Lueseleba it was men and woman, boy and girl. LT: Yeah, that's right: guys and gals. Several of them were sophisticated youngsters.
But there is still a purpose in which you compete with the other pupils. LT: Yeah, I felt that when I was at the practice centre. RJ: You didn't really know that much about the sisters? I wasn't confused by the sisters.
From the European sisters - then we had sisters from Great Britain, Canada and Australia - I found out that their goal was to help the Solomon Islands young people. So I felt that the sisters were very helpful in helping me to become the kind of human being that I am now and to acquire the wisdom that I have.
RJ: When did you actually join the sisters? In 1979 I was accepted as a member of the parish. That'?s where I started my church work. Russian: Do you want to speak a little about your experiences with the sisters? LT: Yes, from the beginning, when I was a young woman, I was always interested in people.
When I was with the sisters and finished my education, I came to Patteson. After joining the company in 1978, I finished my education in 1983. at the Patteson place in Honiara. Sisters there worked among the young people and wives.
It was particularly interested in assisting the wives and kids. Smashed wives and pregnant daughters who were forcibly evicted from their homes. Since then I've been working with the ladies and kids. Russian: When you say that you do ministry, do you talk about counselling people and guiding them in prayers?
Walking through the village with other sisters. I' m there for a whole months with the sisters. During my journey to Canada I stayed for two week with the Sisters in the house of St. Christophorus in Fiji to see the work of the Sisters among the wives and daughters there. I returned to Australia in 1990 for a year and trained as a consultant.
And during this period I also worked part-time with the women's shelter, which is run by the Merciful Sisters. As I returned to the Solomon Islands, I became engaged in the formation of the young Sisters of the Sisters novice. However, I kept helping mums and kids until I went to New Zealand for a months in 1996.
Maybe a school or a school? Then at the end of the year, I signed up to pursue my spiritual formation at Trinity College in Bristol. When I was in Bristol, I distributed packages of meals and feeded people on the road who came to us every single second. Sr. Anna Lisa and I worked to distribute packages of meals to men and women living on the road.
" Two times a weeks we distributed meals and drinks to the people on the street. Then, apart from that, I also worked with the Salvation Army for moms and kids. It was a very enjoyable experience and I learnt a great deal during my stay in England. As I returned, I asked the sisters to come to Honiara and try to carry on this work with them.
RB: Could you speak a little about the kind of programs that the sisters have done with beaten wives, with needy kids, with the arms? Which kind of ministries do you offer and how do you get to people? LT: In Honiara we have a place named Pattesonce.
We have six rooms on the top floor, and that's where the sisters live. Below the rooms on the ground floor there is an offices and a counselling room where we see ladies and gals with difficulties. There are also four rooms for wives and gals and children with difficulties - especially if they need to be separated from their spouses.
Sometimes we try to look after a woman or girl who felt the need to run away. RF: Is that what you offer at Patteson House? LT: That's what we offer at Patteson House. However, a loud and congested area like the Patteson House is not a good place for this kind of work.
When the issue affects the kids, we also get the kids to get together as a whole and talk, look at the issue and try to find a way from where the issue can go to a more convenient, happy place. We try to help the wives, their spouses and the whole familiy so that they can make a trip from suffering to a more pleasant and happy place.
I have also had experience with young ladies who have run away from home. There' many ways a girl can run away. FR: Have you ever been intimidated or scared about your work in counselling families and assisting abused mothers? I was not really scared, but I saw myself under threat when I tried to save wives from furious husband.
A very young pair from the Western Province once came to Honiara to give the lady a child. You just bumped into Patteson, and I could hear the girl crying. I' m sure me and other sisters have been under threat. RF: It must be very pleasing to know that you are in charge of reuniting people under these conditions.
Must people come to you and find you, or is there a programme that the sisters have to pass on to the people who need help? LT: We have a programme to get through to the people. We' re talking about the kind of work we do and people often come to us for help.
It' important because we have no shelter at all in the Solomon Islands, except in Patteson House, where girls can seek help in violence. These are places that a woman can go to when they have the feeling that they have to leave their men in order to be bodily secure.
They found out that it is very important to have a place where the woman can go, where they know that their men cannot find them and they can be sure. Some places where the woman can go for counselling, but they do not offer accommodation, except Patteson House. I am working on suggestions for sanctuary to construct a seperate place from where the sisters will be living - to construct a place where girls can come for a few nights.
RF: How many girls do you currently have with you? At present we have about ten with us, but sometimes there are up to 20 women: four in each room. RJ: Well, this figure covers girls and their kids? LT: And their kids.
It' s hard when we have wives and their kids, because there is no other place to speak to them. RF: Do they have to be members of the Anglican Church? People sometimes say they only want the sisters to take care of the Anglicans. The needs of our wives and kids are our priorities.
You were the primary officer in charge of the programme to help shelter abused wives and kids and offer counselling? European nurses have done some of this work, but not very much. We' ve got more nurses working on it now. RF: What is the relation between the two?
Russian Federation: Yes, the brothers of the Church of Melanesia. I talked about the sisters' plan to establish a real centre for beaten girls and their young. I am also trying to establish a community with the Mothersâ?? Federation and other religions â?" the Sisters of Melanesia, the Melanesian Brothers and the Franciscan Sisters.
They were the sisters of the Church, but I try to include them so that we can work together. LT: Yes, but they really are dependent on the plans made by the sisters of the church. There is a President, the former Archbishop of the Church of Melanesia, Bishop Norman Palmer.
Previously, the sisters worked directly with other members of the group. We now have a fellowship working group. LT: No. Sister Phyllis is the co-ordinator of the Solomon Islands Fellowship. See you next year, when we will have a choice for a new "Provincial", when the Sisters in the Solomon Islands will become a province of their own.
LT: That's the collective name. Nurse Phyllis is the co-ordinator until we have a provincial. LT: Only for Patteson House. "So I' m the responsible nurse for Patteson House and the work there. RF: How long have you been the responsible nurse of Patteson House and how did you get into this role?
LT: I was voted head of Patteson House by the Solomon Islands Chapters. I' ve been in Patteson House since late'98. RJ: When I was here earlier, I think you were called the main sister in the years 88 or 93. The European sisters took over from 1970 to 1986.
Between 1970 and'86 the European sisters were in the Solomon Islands as leaders. Between 1986 and 1993 I was responsible for the sisters in the Solomon Islands, especially for schooling. Russian Federation: Education? LT: Yes, the education of the sisters. In other words, Head Sister was not your formal degree; that's what people used to call you informal.
RJ: But you were in charge of new sisters. She was helped to lead her programme and â to care for the Sisters' religious lives. LT: I do most of the work here, but back then we only had one Malaita home, and we had another home.
RV: There was no home in Makira or Santa Cruz or Western Province? 94 I went at the request of the Bishop of the Diocese of Hanuato'o to open another home in Makira. And I was gonna set up that place with some other sisters. Then another day, at the Temotu bishop's request, I went to Temotu.
It was my task to help build the house and find out how many sisters could be there. And then I came back to do the noviciate workouts. That'?s why I think people gave me that name. RV: Were you able to keep in touch with people at home all the while in Santa Cruz and Makira, here in Honiara, Australia, England?
You may need those of us who have united with the sisters to help. I' m looking at the angling in Anuta. I' m making a suggestion for the fisheries projects they have been trying for a long while. I can' t find him during this period of conflict; during the difficult times of the people here in Honiara.
RB: He also said to me that he is very interested in doing something to help Anuta. Anuta has been very insulated and undersupplied for a long period of it. Said he was interested in doing everything in his power to encourage further growth on Anuta.
They feel that they have many parts in place and that things are prepared to go as soon as they get a little more collaboration from the people at home. The only thing he needs is for people to have enough confidence to take part in the work. They are sceptical about the situations you describe - where people have worked on things and have given their work, efforts and funds and nothing has been done.
REF: Do you find that when you talk to people from Anuta you are heard and taken seriously? LT: When I go home, I'm interested in the people there. If I go to an area, I am interested in the people in that area. RV: Both men and woman are respectful of you and your opinion?
For when I am interested in Anuta, I look at her from all sides. I' m consulting the bosses and the marus, and these are the people I work with. RV: So the concept is not that this is a single research program for a single household, but that it would in some way engage the whole group?
RF: So is the notion of starting some kind of communal shop? It' worked in some of our project - small scale female and child work and so on. He' s got a lot of cash and was interested in assisting the Anutans to build a fisheries company.
I' m guessing some of the people who live in White River have seen him. He was not seen by most people, but they did hear from him; and your sibling, Pu Aramera, said he saw a deed. Other people might be interested. And all he needs is to see the response of people at home.
Frank seems to have faith in him and believes that he cares about people's interests. One other thing I was intrigued to know: You are talking about people who are impoverished and overlooked. One of the things I noticed when I was there in 1972 and'73 is that people are not impoverished and abandoned, at least not as they are in Europe, the United States or Latin America.
The people really seemed to welcome the concept of aropa[this is the Mutan copy of a common Polyynesian term, which means â??loveâ??, â??empathyâ??, or â??compassionâ??], which means teamwork and makes sure that the eager have enough to eat to make sure everyone is considered a happy Family. Any more indifference and suppression on Anuta than I was conscious of?
RV: Where there are people on the street who don't have ¦ But the other kind I'm talkin' about is old people and maybe even a girl with a problem. Like people who are lacking the kind of expertise that other people have. But they have people who don't work well spiritually.
Or, sometimes with old people, their homes are occupied with their backyards, back yards, gardens. RV: So it's not that people deliberately treat them badly, but they have other things to consider? If you look at the people, they will sit all morning and not go anywhere. Persons in this position vary from a minor handicap to old people or people with a minor intellectual handicap.
A few old people there, for example. These old people. Though it seems simple and evident, someone who is old and ill and cannot get around: how do people take charge of their toilets? Just go in the building and someone will clean up?
People on Anuta sometimes overlook the kind of need: that these are people in need. Grandkids are sometimes asked to take good charge of them, but you know how kids are: ¦ As the grown-ups go into the yard, the kids go out playing and forgetting their responsibility. Russian Federation: So what is really needed is a way to make people think about the needs of some people with disabilities, some older people â?" ¦ People who are important to you, but who may not always think about it?
This â??warâ? is referred to by the Solomon Islands as â??The Tensionâ or â??The Ethnic Tensionâ between the paramilitaries who represent Malaita and the tribal peoples of Guadalcanal. "He said, "Daughter, I don't want you and the sisters to go to the front. I and the Church will be embarrassed if a sister is injured or dies.
But, according to Solomon Island tradition, we do not allow the woman to participate in such things. I' ve taken a pledge as a member of the community. That' contained in my vows to help people. "So, I assisted by carrying the brothers and the groceries and taking injured people back to the wards.
LT: We split the brothers and nurses in equal parts, and we went out and halted the fire. There were two nurses from the Melanesia Family and two from my own fellowship, so there were five of us with the Melanesic Brothers. I' ve tried to show them that this is not the way to handle a crises between two isles or two people.
All you can do is slay your siblings. LT: We have a programme where we pray with them twice a daily - in the mornings and evenings. We should speak a little before the season of prayer: take a biblical reference and relate it to their situations.
Sometimes on these days we sisters go alone. There are no allowances for mothers at the front of battle. Rather, it mirrors the kind of reverence they have for a warrior. What I found with the Melanesian Brothers, however, is that they are glad that the Sisters are there to help them, because some of them are very young and very afraid of being shot.
There are sisters of ours who are more ripe than some of the young brothers. And I was there with the other four sisters. Then at the end of July, the sisters retired. To the sisters I said, "We should retreat. RB: That seems to be what people are really scared of. The people just go to other people's houses, point weapons at them and say, "Give me the car or something.
" So, people have to see their belongings taken away from them. The people are afraid because other people have weapons. Some take their belongings and drive the people out of their houses. Russian Federation: The Anglican Church still does not ordinate a woman to the priesthood? There are places like Anuta that don't have a clergy.
I think if the church had consented that girls are â?¦, I would be one. As a Sister of the Church, do you take a pledge of impoverishment? RB: With the whole group, would that mean the Church? The sisters? LT: The Community. Sisters.
Such as the outfit I wear is a community custom. Fellowship could give me these garments as part of my devotion. However, things like a car I could use are common possession. When I need something, I ask the community. RF: What about the amount of cash you have invested with the idea that you will use it for community building on Anuta?
This is not sisters' belongings; this is what you do? People have been fighting for several years. But, because of the way I work, I can't always be home. I' m not using the cash for my own purposes, it's the people' s moneys.
I won't last long. RF: And the sisters' fellowship takes charge of your nutrition and health when you need it? I have a fellowship to cover my essential needs. When I need cash to go somewhere or to cover a need, it is the fellowship that provides it.
When I get some cash from a friends or relatives, I put that cash into the community funds and it is used by everyone. When I need funds for my own needs, I ask the community to give them to me. If I really need it at this point, I will use a small amount of cash from a mate.
Later when I go home to the community, I tell them: "I was given ten bucks - or five bucks - because I was really thirsty or starving, and I got a sip. "But my fundamental needs, my own needs, are always fulfilled by the community. It' not directly to do with you, but I hear from several people that the cross in the church on Anuta turned around during the service.
This was before I became a member of the Community. LT: No, he stood out because he was leading the worship services from the south. When you' re in front of the chapel, it was on the front lefthand side. Now the ranks of females and females are in front.
Been in the front rank of chicks. Halfway along, the crucifix turned its back to the people. LT: I think it must have something to do with people's relation to God at that age. There must have been an evidence that something was wrong with the relation between man and God.
LT: Whoever the ringleaders were at the was. I' m mainly referring to religious leader. This must have something to do with the relation of the ministers to the people. When the ministers and people are not happily together - when something is not right with their relationships - then this mirrors a dilemma in people's relationships with God.
That'?s how I see it, but other people may have a different idea. I' ve listened to these tales, but different people have different ways of interpreting them. LT: Maybe, as Pu Teuku would say, it must have been Jesus who passed on the peopleâ?¦. About people' s behaviour. So, I think it has something to do with people's behaviour.
This is the bond between him and the people. If that happens, God will warn His people. Whenever God was not satisfied with his people, it always occurred with the people of Israel. RV: I have talked to many people who have been dreaminged and have tried to lead their life according to dream.
Some people have been telling me about important nightmares in their life. Has there been a nightmare, a premonition or a good news that has made you join the faith? And I was home, and I was a sexton. Every mornings I went to Mass and prepared for the worship services.
This is the period when the cathedral is obscured. Every single day I prepared for the worship mass, I kneeled down and worshipped. This I did every single day when I was a priest in 1975 and 1976. It' been a fortnight then. Kneeling down, I had my prayers before leaving the home to get ready for the breakfast sermon.
When I opened my lips, I didn't know until about six in the mornings when people were gathering in front of the school. By the time I awoke, the chapel was already bright and I was laying at the aisle. I was behind the temple when I saw the lights, but when I awoke I stood in front of the aisle.
And when I came back to the building and I was too scared to discuss it. In Anuta it got bright at half past five, so I went back at half past five to get up. I' m interested in working with the school. Then in the second year after the premonition, the Father Fititei came and asked me if I wanted to go to the school.
I' ve been working on it ever since. But it didn't happen again after I became a sis. RF: Have you been able to restore good relationships with your former fiancé and his wife since you have been so closely connected with the faith? You didn't know I'd gone to the sisters.
It' just when I was on vacation for the first goddamn vacation and I wore this thing.