From a primary relieve Teacher to the first female Supervisor of schools in the Catholic Education Authority, Modesta Hasiau Padokale proves that a constant faith in God will prepare you for what you thought you are not ready for.
Like her maiden name, Modesta is very modest about her achievements but willing to share her story to empower women of Faith.
I have known Modesta well, but little did I know of her challenging journey through life and how she came to be the Education Secretary Catholic Authority of Arch Diocese of Honiara at the age of only 32.
For Modesta, it begins in a home of discipline and love for God.
She grew up in a simple Catholic family, her father is from Are Are and her mother is from North Malaita and Kwaio. When Modesta did not make it into form 6, her father challenged her to value her education.
“I had to find a way to pay for my own fees to do my preliminary studies, so I sold ice blocks and fish I got from Bunikalo (in Marovo, Western Province). My dad was a strict man and I love him for that.”
After seeing that she is doing well in her studies, her father decided to complete paying her fees. Modesta tried applying for scholarships but to no prevail.
Still, she did not give up hope. She got involved in teaching the primary division at Bishop Epalle Catholic School – a community where she grew up and has become an active youth Leader– in which she was of great assistance as a liturgy teacher, librarian and also a relieve teacher.
“Teaching was not my interest at first but I do it with passion so I enjoyed it. I also led the youth of Epalle Mass Centre and was a Sunday School Coordinator at that time” Modesta recalled.
Modesta got her certificate in Teaching in 2009 and received a Scholarship to study at Goroka University in PNG. She was equipped with more skills in Goroka and worked as a production Coordinator at the Centre for Social and Creative Media on an advocacy film called “Pawa Meri”.
However, she had to leave her work there and return with her husband who fell suddenly ill.
Upon her return to Solomon Islands in 2015, her husband passed away. The young widow was still grieving, when the position of the Archdiocese Education Secretary opened and her friends and family encourage her to apply, but Modesta was not ready to move on. Or so she thought.
“Apart from still trying to get my head around my husband’s death, I am just a teacher, and this is a big position and I don’t think I am ready for the job at that time.”
She said in a light tone and cheerfully added.
“My situation at that time reminds me of the story of Jonah: he was trying to escape from God’s call, but he just had to give in and do what God wants of him.”
Indeed, her story was like Jonah’s.
Her community’s parish priest and elders were ready to help her with her application, but Modesta was stubborn and insisted to have a break at her homeland at Marau, Guadalcanal first to think it over – but in reality, she wanted to hide away till they give up on her.
However, on the day she was supposed to travel, there was a storm so she stayed, the heavy rain continued until she decided to see the church’s elders and agreed to apply.
On the day she agreed to apply, the sun came out.
“From there I just knew it was God’s plan, sometimes I prayed and questioned God why he wants me to do such a big task?” but I cannot disagree with Him. His plans are far better than mine.”
Having only been a widow for 4 months and starting on a demanding job God called her to do, Modesta performed at her best and received respect from her peers and colleagues.
“This work is very demanding, I have to visit the 7 schools in a year, make sure all my schools speak the same language and are on the same page, I also have to draw up a staff development plan and ensure my teachers are well trained,” she said.
In addition to being the youngest to hold the position, the 32 year old is also the first female, some part of her demanding roles include administering the 7 Catholic Schools in Honiara and Makira and supervising the Principals and head of schools. She represents the Archdiocese in the Education board of the country.
“I was once a young teacher and know the struggle to get a scholarship, so I want to make sure all my passionate teachers in training get to upgrade their skills and get scholarships they deserve,” she said.
When asked to whom she owes her success. Modesta responded confidently and humbly.
“Firstly, God. This is His will and all glory must be given back to him, also my mother for always supporting me and my Catholic family: they are there for me and always believe in me.”
There is one very important life value that Modesta live by and wishes to share.
“As a person, you can only give two things to another person with the decision you make or what you say to them, and that is: hope or destruction. It is your choice, but as God’s people, we must always give hope to one another. So be careful what you say”.
Modesta never runs out of advice, she quickly clicks on her computer’s desktop and read aloud “Never give a permanent decision on a temporary situation.”
It is a tough journey for such a young widow, but Modesta made it very clear that God has bigger plans for women with faith and when He calls you, you are already prepared.