A young Samoan woman will soon have the audience of her lifetime with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Petronilla Molio’o Mataeliga has been awarded the Queen’s Young Leaders award, joining a group of inspirational young entrepreneurs in the world whose efforts have been recognised by the Queen of England.
Mrs. Mataeliga joins another fellow Samoan in the list of winners within the four years of the award, Erna Takazawa.
Speaking to the Weekend Observer yesterday, she said she was thrilled and humbled by the recognition.
But she admits that the journey has been difficult.
“I gave birth when I was 20, and I felt my life was done,” she said.
“I messed up, but over time I realised that if I had given up, I would never have gotten to where I am now.”
Five years later, she has been recognised for her efforts in the revival of the weaving of the “fala-masi”, a tradition that was passed down from her grandmother from the village of Faleapuna.
“This award really belongs to the legacy of my grandmother, and to my mother who continued it,” she said.
Mrs. Mataeliga says she owes her success to her mother, Mulipola Anarosa Molio’o, whose strong traditional values drove her to success. She also credited her father, Molio’o Pio Molio’o for his help.
“Having a child at such a young age, I never saw where God would take me. I ended up bringing the ‘fala-masi’ to my work. I teach my employees how to weave, and I’ve taught some of our people how to weave it as well.”
The 25-year-old is now married with three children and manages Le Rosa Accommodation and Spa.
She is a strong youth empowerment advocate.
She recently joined S.V.S.G. Juniors following in her mother’s footsteps.
“I have to thank S.V.S.G.,” she said. “They really were very supportive of the work we’ve been doing.
“Being there and seeing the stories of those in there, it intrigued me to think had I given up on such simple challenges when there are people who have dealt and survived more.”
Mrs. Mataeliga will spend a week in London, England, leading up to the ceremony where 240 winners from all 52 Commonwealth countries will be awarded the Queens Young Leaders award.