Tracy Mwadayna is a woman with a mission. Born and raised in Sagarai Village, Milne Bay Province, Tracy’s early years were spent helping her small-holder farming family with the harvest of oil palm. Despite completing her secondary education in 2004, Tracy was not offered a place in a tertiary institution of her choice. She remained in her village and became an active participant in community work.

“My community is everything to me,” Tracy says. “I believe in the power of community to bring about positive change, and I’ve always been outspoken and passionate about working together to make our village a better place.”

Tracy’s dedication to her community caught the attention of the ward councillor, who asked her to become the ward recorder. As the ward recorder, Tracy was responsible for collecting data on the population of Sagarai, keeping track of government services like the aid post and classrooms, organizing community meetings, and representing the councillor at ward meetings at the provincial administration.

“I take my role as a ward recorder very seriously,” Tracy says. “It’s not just a job for me – it’s a way to give back to my community and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Tracy’s commitment to her work as a volunteer also led her to become involved with Cheshire Disability Services in Milne Bay Province. She conducted surveys on the number of people living with disabilities in the province and provided the information to Cheshire Services to help them provide special needs equipment.

“I believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, regardless of their abilities,” Tracy says.

In 2019, she was recognized by the National Statistics Office and the Department of National Planning for her outstanding data collection methods and was asked to do a presentation at a meeting of village recorders.

“I was so proud to be recognized for my work,” Tracy says. “It was a validation of all the hard work I had put in over the years, and it motivated me to keep pushing for positive change.”

Despite her many volunteer roles, Tracy always knew that she wanted to become a special needs teacher. She applied for the Australia Awards Scholarship, which would give her the formal qualifications she needed to achieve her dream. When she found out that she had been awarded a fully-funded scholarship to study at the Sacred Heart Teachers College, Tracy and her family were overjoyed.

“It was a dream come true,” Tracy says. “I had worked so hard to get to this point, and I was ready to take the next step in my journey.”

After graduating from the Sacred Heart Teachers College in 2022, Tracy was posted to Ebora Primary School on Misima Island. She is excited to implement the Lukautim Pikinini Act and the Standard-Based Education that she learned in school, and to continue working with her community to improve their lives.

“I’m still a volunteer at heart,” Tracy says. “I believe that we can accomplish great things when we work together, and I’m excited to continue being a part of that.”