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Woman who grew up on tropical island becomes software engineer

·2-min read

A woman who grew up on a tropical island with no internet, electricity, or even running water, is now a successful software engineer. 

Sara Cave, 24, spent her childhood in Rano, a tiny village on the Solomon Islands, off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific. 

Rano, which has just 400 inhabitants, still has no connection to the modern technological world - the nearest telephone is many islands away in the capital, Honiara.

Sara described her childhood as extremely simple and beautiful and added that people were usually asleep by six o'clock. 

She said: "People go to bed very early. It's not like we had a phone or any other things to do - so if the sun sets at five, most people are asleep by six.

"My grandma had one book, and it was a detailed anatomy book that they used to help women in the village give birth, and that was the closest thing I had to a bedtime story."

Despite her parents' love for the village, the family moved to Brisbane, Australia, when Sara was five so that she would have more opportunities.

Sara added: "The school system is very rough in Solomons. They have standardized tests in certain grades that determine who is allowed to return to school.

"My dad wanted us to live in Australia for that reason. He thought, If I didn't pass those tests I wouldn't end up educated."

Transitioning from a world without technology to the hyperconnected modern world was a culture shock for Sara. 

She added: "I came to Australia and found everything to be confusing. I'm thinking: 'where do people go to farm their crops?' When really, they just go to the supermarket.

"I remember seeing a washing machine and thinking: 'what is this spinning thing? How does this work?' 

"I was used to going to the river to wash my clothes." 

Sara returns to her home in the Solomon Islands every year despite the long journey which includes a flight, a two-day ferry.

The lack of phones, or other means of communication, means she risks no one being be there to 'pick her up'. 

In high school, Sara helped her father, who worked in IT, design websites. 

She credits this experience to pointing her in the direction of coding and software. 

Sara is now a support engineer at Gaia Resources, an environmental consultancy, in Perth.

She said: "I went to school with so many kids that didn't get the opportunities I did, so everything I do, I do for them and to give back to my home."