Shaped by Circumstance?
Updated: Jun 7, 2021
Living in Honiara for most of my teens and now young adult life, I treasure my home, and roots to my community and people.
My tropical island paradise is genuinely a joy to live in, and I am both indebted to my parents and grateful for the chance to have been brought up in such a happy, communal society.
The 'Hapi Isles'
We grew up with a direct link to our ocean. To being tied to each other by the common factor of the sea that unites our islands.
Growing up by the sea, sand and sunshine - it isn’t hard to see why we are dubbed the ‘Hapi Isles’ (Happy Islands).
Part of the Hapi Isle charm was the fact that, in such an idyllic setting, I was lulled into the false sense of security of living in an affordable environment.
Now as a young adult living on our own terms, we are fast realising that, as with anything, there are pro’s and con’s to everything.
Does the Good outweigh the Bad?
The Solomon Islands itself, has a very narrow job market, with limited prospects for any new graduate. Limiting yourself to insisting on only taking on a job directly related to what you trained for means a lot of hard decisions, financial sacrifices and forgoing many chances while you wait on that golden opportunity. See here for example.
Let’s take a look at unpaid internships, for example. To be frank and fair, whilst they are amazing opportunities, they’re extremely hard to manage when you are back living in Honiara - possibly in your parent’s home, while you navigate finding your own place.
I have always felt that unpaid internships were just a way for those that could afford the opportunity without being paid, to get ahead of peers who were in no way, shape or size - able to go the months of not being paid, despite how good that would have looked on our CV.
A bit of a reality check here before we keep going.
As much as I adore my country, it genuinely IS a hard one to live in. More so for young couples, starting out with a young family.
The cost of living in Honiara (I speak only for Honiara, but the same may go for our provincial capitals, although at a much more reduced rate) is also extremely high.
For example, electricity rates in Solomon Islands are the highest in the region, and amongst the highest in the world, costing USD 79 cents (SBD $6.29) per kilowatt hour - and on average, 30% higher than other Pacific Islands.
Housing is another example. On par, it is expensive - since the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) days, there was a skewed housing market with housing rental rates going for up to $35,000+ a month - and the market price, despite dropping, is still inordinately high for an average Solomon Islander.
Then there are the cultural overwhelm factors that I discuss in a separate blog.
These all make for an extremely hard environment to be successful in, and move beyond the ‘hand to mouth’ existence we, as Solomon Islanders, are very aware of.