Mele Tuifua, 26, is a trainee lineswoman with Tonga Power. Together with an all-woman crew, she worked for four years to upgrade and refurbish powerlines on the island of Ha’apai—where she was born and raised—so it could cope with the increased power coming from the Outer Islands Renewable Energy Project, which is providing clean, cheap, and reliable solar energy to the people of Tonga.
What did the refurbishment project involve?
We would replace old power lines with new ones. So that involved everything. From digging the hole, to building a new line and then taking down the old one. It’s easy but sometimes hard. The sun is too hot sometimes. And sometimes we lack the materials we need here on the island. But I really enjoy the job.
What skills have you learned?
I have learned everything it takes to do the lines work and then how to do the boys’ work. I thought that only boys can do this work. But girls can do this work the same as the boys.
What is it about the job that you like?
I love being a lineswoman. I just love it, I enjoy that we can help each other and work as a team. That’s why I like it.
What was it like being part of an all-woman crew? Did people think you couldn’t do the job?
People used to say this job is only for the boys. That only boys can do this job. But we’ve shown that women can do the same job and I hope that it encourages women here that they can do the same job as the boys.
Does it feel good to have proved people wrong?
What is it like to be doing a job that is helping to improve the quality of life here on Ha’apai?
I feel proud that I am doing a good job for them. Because I’m a Ha’apai lady. I feel happy that I can do good work for my people.