By AILEEN KWARAGU
EMMA Leisetta was in Grade Two when her father Edwin Tokawau passed away.
For Emma, as for anyone at that age, it was a challenge she just had to deal with.
She is the fourth eldest in a family of four boys and four girls. They then all looked up to their mother Maria Gorethy to look after them. And they will be forever grateful to her for her sacrifice.
Emma, 48, is from Ferguson Island (Wamea) in Esa’ala, Milne Bay. She was born and raised at Budoya on Ferguson Island. She is married to Hillary Leisetta. They have three children who are all adults.
She is today the head teacher at the Alotau Primary School in Milne Bay.
Her education and family obligations were “hard to handle” but faith and commitment helped her through.
“It was a very difficult life. I had struggled during my early education. I had to walk for more than three hours every day to school.
“And life in the village was so difficult. Sometimes we had to go hungry. But nothing was going to stop me from achieving my dreams.”
She has been teaching for the past 30 years – 17 of them as head teacher of the Alotau Primary School.
“ I dedicated myself to my dreams and ambitions. And especially my mother who never gave up on me.”
She describes being a teacher as the most wonderful thing that has happened in her life, which she just loves and is committed to.
“I am happy with my job, my life and my family because that is what makes me satisfied.”
She credits husband Hillary too for her success and happiness.
“My husband is always very supportive and contributed to my teaching career immensely. That is why I bloomed from a no one to someone today. I also thank God for that.”
Looking back now, Emma knew that the hard life she had endured with her family, and the struggles they faced had prompted her to be successful.
She attended Oyau Primary School from 1979 to 1984 completing forms one to six. She later moved to the Hagita High School where she completed Grade 10 in 1988.
In 1989, Emma attended the Madang Teachers College and graduated the following year with a Certificate in Teaching.
She joined the Education Department and taught for 12 years before enrolling at the PNG Education Institute to upgrade her qualification to Diploma in Teaching which she got in 2005.
She returned to Alotau to continue her career.
Emma was promoted to senior teacher in 2002 and the following year became head teacher of Alotau Primary School.
Before becoming a teacher, she wanted to do something to personally thank her mother Maria for everything she had done for her eight children.
“I dedicated myself to my dreams and ambitions. And especially to my mother who never gave up on me.”
She remembered her when she got her first pay.
“When I got my first pay cheque, I gave it to my mother.”
A small gesture but certainly deep from the heart for all that they had come through together.