BY RUTH AMOS
Out on a remote island of Temotu, in the eastern part of Solomon Islands, a seed was planted in the heart of a young girl and she has vowed to take care of it for life.
This is a story of how a young girl from the village of Napir who once dreamt of becoming a medical practitioner, pursued it but then when her heart yearned for the environment she switched to become an environmentalist.
Sharon Inone, 30, is currently the only Solomon Islander who is studying for her masters in environmental science in Scotland, but her story did not start there.
“I grew up in a rural setting in the remote Island of Santa Cruz in Temotu Province with three siblings.”
She said she pretends to be an introvert most times to fit in. Her strict parents would discourage her to play with other kids often and would regard such leisure activity as losing sight to purpose.
“My way of escaping my parent’s strategy of keeping us kids focused on school at home was fishing and gardening” she recalled.
The then young teenager would often paddle out to sea, to fish just for sport and often times went home empty handed yet with a full heart.
She often talked to her plants whilst out in her garden, just explaining her daily encounters.
“A weird sight to the normal purpose of fishing and gardening for the people in my village” she laughed.
It seem an obvious choice to take science throughout her high school and then at the University as she aims to culture her interests.
“Throughout high school I was aiming to be a medical doctor though I am very passionate about the environment” she said.
“I was accepted to study at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2017, everything seemed so perfect, and on track” she said.
Somehow, the universe stepped in with challenges, second year at the University I traded medical school to be in an environmental and geography class” she said.
“I remember attending my first lecture and my face lit up, I become more focused then ever” she said.
In 2018 I graduated as an environmental scientist” Ms Sharon recalls.
“A victory, not only am I happy about but also beaming over the fact that I have come through challenges faced in the duration of my Uni days” she said.
The now mother of two, relates her struggle through her years of studying and her endurance.
“It was not an easy path for me. I was pregnant with my first child during my first year in my undergraduate studies” she explained.
She went on: “then, I was playing the role of a mother, student and wife and it was challenging as I was only 22 years old.
There were days when she had to attended lectures with her daughter and at times had mental breakdowns along the way Ms Sharon revealed.
When asked what kept her going she explained that her relationship with her family was her strength.
“What kept me sane was a strong support system from friends and families, my parents never stopped caring for me” she said.
She said she understands there are other women out there who may have been struggling with a similar situation, she hopes her values would help them as well.
“I changed my outlook towards challenges in life by seeing every challenge coming at me as an opportunity to rise and maintain good attitude” she said with great determination.
With that, the young environmentalist had pushed all boundaries limiting her to accomplishing more for her island.
Miss Sharon has created a strategy that includes the sustainability of natural resources in her island and province.
“I have been an advocate for sustainable development in my province involving my community as well as leading them to understand its benefits”.
In 2018 she joined a group of men and travelled to rural communities doing awareness on Climate Change and sustainable development.
Sharon also represented women in a landowners group where they pushed for the cancelation of prospecting mining license in Santa Cruz.
To which the local Government eventually adhered to the calls from the resource owners resulting in the cancelation of the Mining License from the AU Company the same year.
See story via this link: http://theislandsun.com.sb/government-urged-to-stand-ground-against-mining-company/?amp
The activist said “it is a common ongoing battle in the Solomon Islands and elsewhere for that matter”.
“As we are driven to fast money, there will always be some people who are willing to sell their resources at the expense of everyone” she said.
After these activities were completed though a few agendas is an ongoing discussion, Miss Sharon is glad that the understanding of sustainable development is the new narrative.
Especially for her community, whilst she welcomed her and her community’s new opportunity.
“In 2020 I won a scholarship as the first Pacific and Solomon Islanders sponsored under the Irish fellowship program for small Island developing states” she said.
“I am currently doing my Masters in science in climate change, agriculture, and food security at the national university of Ireland in Galway” the proud Islander said.
“I am planning to do the PhD in two years’ time “she said with a tone determination
Miss Sharon Inoni has come a long way now moving closer to reaping the fruit of her hard work, yet felt little homesick.
“If am given an opportunity to travel right now, I will choose to just go home. It has been 12 years of travelling and I guess it is time to give back to my people” she said.
When asked how she would like to see the manifestation of her dreams, she said she would like to see not only the development of her island but the whole country.
Sharon said “I would like to bring development back to the island provinces of Solomon Islands, smart villages”.
“My goal is to push for the development of technologies and creating the enabling environment for Agriculture” she said.
She continued on saying: “Unless we provide workable alternatives to our rural population, despite and in spite of information on “say no to mining and logging”
As per her understanding of smart villages she said “this is to ensure there is a convenient flow in the agricultural food chain, from production in the rural areas to food access, utility and stability”.
Although she is in another country studying, she still kept contact with her family back in the islands and helped with any advices where she can, as an activist, environmentalist and someone who cared about her home.
When asked what inspired her to getting to where she is now, miss Sharon shared some values that is evergreen for all ages.
“I would not say I pursue success, as finding my purpose and passion is the key that unlocks the door to progress and self-development” she said.
She continued, “Success is not what I have done compared to others, but more of what my purpose is, compared to what I am doing towards the fulfillment of that purpose.”
Sharon said she knows she is still far from achieving her ultimate goal and it needs a change of perspective.
“I am still a long way away but having the power to shift my thinking pattern from seeing everything as working against me to working for me has been my greatest achievement”, She said.
She encourages youths : “stop blaming and beating yourself up for everything that is not working well”.
“Instead see challenges as opportunities to rise beyond your comfort zones” she said.
She concluded by saying “all works for your good, the day you start seeing it is the day you will start progressing.”
Sharon believes that her journey will never stop upon her return to the country, but a beginning to a new era, creating the tomorrow she dreamt of.
Helping her environment that made up her home and the many young generations of the day and years to come.