Sheer determination pays off - Papua New Guinea National Maritime Safety Authority
Dedication, hard work and motivation are key qualities that propels any female to overcome uncertainties and barriers associated to any traditional male-dominated profession.
This is particularly true in the seafaring profession where one is required to work shifts and has to endure an unpredictable and tough lifestyle while at sea, just so that there is efficiency in the delivery of goods and supplies between destinations.
Ms. Sylvia Kivali is familiar with this routine, having started her seafaring career as a deck cadet officer in 2011 and is now employed by the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA) as Small Craft Officer.
She began her career in the maritime industry as a deck cadet and served onboard Steamships Coastal shipping vessels.
When asked about her sea-time experience, Sylvia emotionally recalls through memory or rather, likens the experience as a challenge, having gone through the unexpected curve balls that life throws and managing her expectations of the role. Her first sea-time experience lasted almost 6-months with an all-male crew, which not only strengthened her determination and will but this learning experience, was one of camaraderie and finding her place as a team member.
This young 29-year-old lass worked her way from being a trainee cadet from the Papua New Guinea Maritime College in Madang to a Deck Officer (Second Mate) onboard the MV Balimo Chief before leaving her sea-time job.
Kivali served Steamships Coastal Shipping for five years and during this time, has obtained vast experience as a seafarer on voyages both domestically and internationally.
Kivali is of mixed parentage, Central and Manus and attests that being from both coastal provinces reinforced her intrigue of the sea and fuelled a passion to work in the maritime industry.
She was introduced to the seafaring profession in 2009, after graduating from Grade 12 at Port Moresby National High, through Late Captain John Nuga Wala’s advice on the qualifications necessary in becoming a Marine Pilot. She enrolled at the PNG Maritime College as a self-sponsored student for the Deck Cadet Course.
After completing the academic requirements with the College, she joined Steamships Coastal Shipping (now Consort Shipping) as a trainee in Port Moresby. She underwent several training courses concurrently as she worked and subsequently, obtained a Mate 4 Certificate of Competency from PNG Maritime College.
As an additional qualification, she also has a Diploma in Business Management from the International Training Institution, as she believed this would equip herself with business and management skills, to properly carry out her duties and prepare herself for a career ashore.
In her current role as Small Craft Officer, her job requires her to assist the Small Craft team to provide administrative support to the Small Craft Boards of the 15 Maritime Provinces to adopt and comply with the provisions of the Small Craft Act 2011.
Kivali said: “As a seafarer, I’m proud of that profession and will promote and maintain professionalism and good work practises at all cost.”
Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicine and medical supplies. However, this crisis and the restrictions imposed on the maritime industry, has had an impact on the working conditions for seafarers, including the uncertainties and difficulties relating to port access to resupply, the limitation on crew changeover making it difficult for seafarers to re-unite with family after a lengthy time at sea and repatriation.
This year, the International Day of the Seafarers campaign calls on Member States to recognise seafarers as key workers and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.