History-Making for Solomon Islands Female Tiler

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Rose Mae undergoing tile plastering work at a newly constructed building at the Solomon Power residential area at Koloale in Honiara.

BY JOY OFASIA

I chose my career as a tiler because I believe it was my only opportunity to earn good money that could enable me to raise the welfare of my children,” said Rose Mae, a single mother, and perhaps, one of only a handful of female tilers in the Solomon Islands.

Rose’s journey to becoming a tradeswoman was motivated by the search for a personal challenge and her choice seems to have proven a success. Knowing she had an interest in becoming a tiler, it took Rose a while before she took the choice of going into the study. By the time she got up the courage to enroll in Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC), the fear of studying in a group of mainly men towards a career in a male-dominated industry had weakened.

“In my family, I had brothers who worked as carpenters, and growing up with them I admired their trades and professions. In 2010, I asked them if I could work with them and observe skills and knowledge of tiling a constructed building,” she described.

She graduated from APTC in 2011 with a Certificate III in Carpentry (CPC30211), after she got accepted for study under the 2010 Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) program in Walu Bay, Suva in Fiji. She later applied for an employment opportunity at Fletcher Kwaimani Construction Company. On her application being successful, she became a permanent employee at the company specialling in the application of wall and floor tiling.

“I currently work at the Fletcher Kwaimani Construction Company, however, I also undergo tiling works under my own supervision and private contracts with my clients in the designing, cutting and tiling of bathroom, toilet or kitchen in their private or commercial building setting,” she said.

According to Rose, the CPC31311 Certificate III in Wall and Floor Tiling has given her the opportunity to further her skills and experience within the construction industry.

Now with her qualification, she will be able to use her skills to lay ceramic, clay, slate, marble, glass, and other types of tiles on external and internal walls and floors. She also can now use tiles to provide protective and decorative finishes and apply the use of tile-cutting tools to cut and shape tiles needed for edges, corners, or around obstacles such as fittings and pipes.

Life as a Single Mother….

Rose said one of the challenges apart from her work is the life of being a single parent and it can also be a quite challenging task. You have to be a good role model, whilst all of the responsibilities of the household lies on your shoulders.

“Life was not that easy for me as a single mother however, I had a very strong heart for my four children.

“When I got married to my ex-husband, I was a housewife and only supported by my husband’s earnings. But then in 2009 I became a single parent to my children and struggled very hard to support them,” Rose expressed.

Rose described that all that she did was for the benefit of her family.

“As a single mother, meeting the every single need of my family was a real challenge for me.

“I have four children who are all in school and having gone through this situation I had to do something in order to support them not only in school but for the wellbeing of my family since I was the only parent for my children.

“As a mother and woman working in this male dominant job, I faced my own challenges, but because of the passion and respect I had towards my job and towards my male colleagues, I worked with a strong and peaceful heart and enjoyed every bit of it.

“I would like to thank God for his mercy and strength in helping me strive to this far as a single mother,” she said.

As with any profession, she encouraged single mothers and young women in the country who might have gone through a similar situation to be strong and have faith in whatever they are passionate about and never give up.

“This is an industry dominated by males, so I encouraged women to consider a trade’s career. Women can do all things productively if we really believe in ourselves, despite our gender differences.”