Salomonen: Kathleen Kapei

If women and children can be recognized as equals of men and allowed to exercise their rights as human beings, then men and women, families, communities and the society at large will benefit.

— Kathleen Kapei

Christian faith and love for local communities triggered Sister Kathleen's work for the welfare of women and children, human rights, social justice, and peace in Solomon Islands.

Prior to the social unrest and ethnic conflict in the late 1990s, women and children already faced discrimination relating to recognition, education, health and other social, economic, and cultural factors. The troubles worsened their situation: children could not go to school, women were raped, and general violence against women and children increased. Family survival became an issue in both the urban and the rural areas. The Sisters Household was located in the no-go (war) zone so for Sister Kathleen to work meant she risked being abused and harassed by both warring parties. But it also meant she could influence both sides, too. One day, because Sister Kathleen and her party had to work in between the two warring parties, both sides called a ceasefire for that day. On another occasion, Sister Kathleen and a member of the Melanesian Brotherhood were camped in between the two warring parties. That day, members of the Malaita Eagle Force signaled to them that they wanted to discuss something. The member of the Melanesian Brotherhood suggested that Sister Kathleen should go and talk because Solomons' women are respected in culture and peacemaking. When Sister Kathleen arrived, the Malaita Eagle Force asked for permission to fight the other party for five minutes. With courage, Sister Kathleen refused permission. Her order was heard and respected during that day. These are only two examples of Sister Kathleen's many involvements and peace building experiences during the troubles.

Church of Melanesia Save the Children Family Support Center