By LORRAINE JIMAL
GROWING up in an area where crime is commonplace convinced Barbra Mepran to do everything she could to make her community safe, for people to peacefully co-exist by respecting and caring for each other.
“The street where we live in Madang is in one of the worst settlements in terms of criminal activities. I saw a lot of crime every day. I want to live in a peaceful and free environment.”
So she joined the police force when the opportunity arose. She is now First Constable Barbra.
She comes from a family where Christian values are taught and emphasized in their upbringing. She was taught and learned to live peacefully with people around her and to treat them with respect.
She was born on June 19, 1980 – the eldest in a family of four where she is the only girl. They are from the Chambri Lakes in East Sepik but raised in Madang.
She is now the mother of sons Ron Jonathan, 14, and Cristoneuman, 9, who both attend the Bomana Primary School.
She is raising them alone after her husband left.
“I’m trying to manage my home, take care of my sons, overcome any problem working in a field dominated by men. But I am confident and know that I am capable of achieving all.”
She attended the Tusbab High School in the 1990s and completed her schooling at the Malala Secondary School in Madang. But she could not find the fees necessary to attend UPNG so she stayed at home.
As fate would have it, in 2009 after being unable to attend university, Barbra was accepted to join the police force. She started at the Bomana Training College.
“Since then, I have worked in different sections of the constabulary. I was later appointed the first secretary in the training office.”
As an instructor, she conducts classes as well as skills training, drills training and training on the use firearms.
As the only female in her group of trainers, she wanted to give up at times because of the work environment.
“ I’m trying to manage my home, take care of my sons, overcome any problem working in a field dominated by men. But I am confident and know that I am capable of achieving all.”
“Sometimes I gave up and wouldn’t go to work for a week.”
She therefore rotated her schedule to conduct training in various sections such as on the use of firearms.
“Dealing with firearms is tough and you have to get it right. There was discrimination with the mindset of the people. Some of us (women) want to break through the barriers and negativity. We want to show other women that they can also do what we are doing and succeed.”
Being the only girl in her family, doing what she is doing among mostly men makes her proud and confident that gender does not really matter.
“I am happy here (Bomana Training College). Being an instructor makes me happy. Discipline is paramount.”
Being trained as a police officer has also helped her confront issues with determination and confidence.
Her advice to women in general is to never give up when confronted with problems.
“My advice is if you find things hard, come and join the police force. You will find yourselves at another level.”
First Constable Barbra thanks her family and friends for their support, especially her father who works at the Madang wharf.
“A big thanks to my family and cousins who supported me throughout my life and made me who I am today.”