Friday, November 30, 2007


SETTING goals and maintaining the right attitude are important steps one needs to follow to succeed, says Amali Shaw.
The 18-year-old is the dux of Dudley High School in Suva.
Amali is proud of her achievement which she attributes to proper planning and discipline.
"There is no substitute for hard work," she said.
"I believe in setting goals and planning in life because it will lead us to success.
"I had set a goal to be crowned dux of the school a long time ago and I had been working hard from the start of the year to achieve it.
"Setting goals is not enough because if your attitude is not right after setting the goal, then what's the whole point of it?
"Every small thing you do counts in the end. Students need to keep their attitude right with studies in order to get fruitful results in the end.
"For instance, punctuality and time management are very important elements and you cannot afford to slip out in this area."
Amali was taking six subjects and scored the highest mark in all six.
She had 83 for English, Biology 85, Chemistry 85, Mathematics 89, Religious Education 90 and Food and Technology 92.
She was also named the best science student of the year.
Amali expected her win and in her heart she always knew she could do it.
"I have been in this school since Form Three and I have never seen a Fijian student taking the dux of the school award and as I went to higher forms, my determination to be dux of the school at my time became stronger."
The character of students, personality and how they do in their studies depend on the type of family they come from, says Amali.
"I think the type of family a student comes from has a lot of effect on who he is and how he performs in school.
"It also depends on the parents' attitude and their interest in what goes on in their child's school life."
Amali's mentors are her parents, teachers and God.
She is from Mokani Village in Tailevu and attended Lami Primary School.
"I am always backed and supported by my mentors and I never give up in life.
"Religion also plays a huge part in a person' life and how they view things. I would just like to mention a verse from the Bible which I stand by all the time Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness then everything else will be added on to you."
Amali was head girl this year but the responsibility, she said, was not an obstacle for her academic progress.
"My message to all the young scholars is to work hard from the start of the term.
"Don't think that you can relax when there is plenty of free time.
"Make use of it and it will count in the end, every bit of it."
Amali is looking forward to joining the Fiji School of Medicine and enroll in the MBBS course next year.
She wants to be called Doctor Shaw in life.


Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Former shoeshine boy became the DUX of the school

A FORMER shoeshine boy who spent two and a half years roaming the streets of Sura was named Dux of the Year at Lami High School yesterday.

Maikeli Pio Bale, 19, topped the school in four subjects Agriculture, English, Chemistry and Biology. He said he was motivated by his street struggles and encouraged by his grand-uncle, who adopted him when he was a child after his parents split up.

"I just thought of all the struggles I had while I was in that situation and I thought to myself that I had the potential to go in the opposite direction and achieve whatever I want," he said.

Having come from a broken family, Maikeli was moved from school to school and spent time in his village of Tukavesi at Buca Bay in Vanua Levu about three years ago. In 2000, he was beaten up by soldiers for breaking a curfew.
Two years later, he was pulled off the streets by his granduncle and made to sit for his intermediate exam which he passed. But he returned to the streets and started shining shoes for a living and sleeping rough.

Eventually, Maikeli said he learnt the error of his ways and, like a prodigal son, returned home, went back to school and started going to church regularly. "I still meet my street-kid friends in town once in a while. They try to influence me back but I just tell them to go back to school," he said.

Maikeli has now set his sights on becoming a primary school teacher. His granduncle, Saimoni Naqete, a carpenter by trade, was a proud and a shocked man yesterday. He said Maikeli never told him how well he was doing in school.

He said he never gave up hope on his adopted child, despite his waywardness. "He was a street kid on and off for two and a half years but even while he was like that, I used to keep advising him that it was not the right way to go,'' said Mr Naqete.

"Just looking at what he has achieved today is amazing because he never even told me how he had been doing in school. I came to the prize-giving not expecting to see him collect so many prizes."

Adapted from November 28th, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


RENOWNED Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti once said the object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity. And that is how Sofaia Tagilala views art.

Sofaia always had a liking for art. At primary school she would always try and make something out of the little coloured crayons she had. She would draw stick figures and flowers like other students.

Little did she realise that one day she would be among local artists showcasing their work to prominent people in society. Today, this budding artist who hails from Galoa Village in Kadavu is making a name for herself at the Ratu Iloilovatu Gallery at the Arts Culture and Design School at Raiwai.

She had always wanted to be in the teaching profession but since she enrolled at the school she has never regretted making a change. Now at the age of 20, Tagilalas works of art has marveled a lot of people especially locally renowned artists.

Sofa as her friends call her was in her art room at the school busy painting, completing an incredible piece she has managed to put together in less than a week. Now a third year student at the Art School, Sofa says furthering her interest in art was something that never occurred to her until she joined the school.

Although I love drawing and colouring, it never occurred to me that one day I would actually join a school that would be able to build up my confidence in painting, Sofa said. I was educated at Rampur Primary School in Navua and later joined Rampur College for my secondary education. Although we had art and craft classes in school it never used to be a subject that was seriously taken by the teachers and students, she said.

Since I enrolled at the School of Arts, Culture and Design in 2005, I have come to appreciate what art is all about, she said. Sofa said art is not just about putting colours together to make drawings look good, but it is a way of expressing feelings, moods and views on a particular subject.

Like many of her friends at the school, they each have subjects they love to use as models for painting. My favourite subject is to paint flowers, she said. She said flowers were always the main subject of her artwork because of its complexities in shape and colours.

Flowers are unique and it is the simplest description of the beauty of nature, she said. Flowers are more realistic when we paint them and of cause they are loved by all, she said. Sofa who collected the emerging artist award during last years National Art Exhibition Awards said painting any subject directly related to nature always had an impact on those who love and are conscious of their natural surroundings.

In this years display, Sofa is proudly showcasing a painting of a bird of paradise flower that has colours of orange, purple, yellow and red against a black backdrop. On her wall she has paintings of gladiolas, tulips, orchids and other local flowers.

Sofa loves using pastels in her paintings because she finds it easy to blend the colours. Im glad that at school Im able to develop the little art instinct that I had with me and now it has started to blossom, she said. Sofa said it was an honour to have her art work showcased among those of other students at the gallery.

Sofa said while art may be seen by some people as mere drawings, there are important messages and themes that are behind every art work. I would like to tell the general public to appreciate art as a way of artists expressing their thoughts and ideas about a particular issue or subject, she said. She said most young people prefer to put their thoughts in art forms rather than speaking out publicly.

Sofa hopes to become a teacher one day and spread the fun of having art as a lesson in schools. I believe there is a lot of artistic talent out there that just needs the right tapping, she said.

Sofa encourages young artists in the country to make the most of their talents as it is now becoming an income earning industry in the country.

Adapted from the November 20th, 2007

Saturday, November 17, 2007


MARY Daya is one of the young emerging writers of the Pacific Writing Forum.

The forum is the creative expression and publications arms of the School of Languages, Arts and Media at the University of the South Pacific.

In the past 10 years, the forum has published more than 250 work by Pacific writer in books, journals, occasional papers and anthologies.

What does it take to be a writer? This is what Mary has to say about what she does. "One has to have an open, creative and dedicated mind in order to be a good writer," she said. "You cannot just go in front of a computer, log on and start typing a story; you have to do a lot of preparation in advance.

"In order to be a good writer, you have to read a lot and read with interest.
"Writing is not easy. You have to work on it for a long period of time. "To be a successful writer, you have to be inspired everyday to be able to write and you have to take it seriously like a job.
"For me, you have to take writing seriously and be into it like you report to any other job in the morning.

"It is not a fairy tale thing that everything will come to your mind and you just start writing. You have to be sure of who you are because it helps you in your writing." Having the skill of writing is one thing but what is more challenging is getting the opportunity to prove your talent, says Mary.

"It is not easy to get recognition especially in the Pacific region. "If you want to be a good writer and be recognised then you have to seek out for opportunities and make your way through."

That is exactly what she did. She enrolled in creative writing course at the USP Literature and Language Department last year and her outstanding writing got her to be part of PWF. Before enrolling at USP, Mary used to write for online readers.

She developed her talent by writing short stories for Asia Pacific Writers and Fiji Speakers Corner. She has also written articles for the USP's Language and Literature Department's annual journal Saraga last year and has contributed articles for this year's journal Dreadlocks. She specialises in writing prose, fiction novels and short stories.

Mary is also supervising and acting as an adviser for a Harvard University student at USP. However her biggest challenge which she has just taken up this week is teaching creative writing to women in Suva Prison. Mary will continue with this for a year she said she was looking forward to be involved in such a project.

Joining the creative writing program at USP, she said, was the best thing that happened to her.
"The best thing to do is join the creative writing program at USP because that is the best thing that ever happened to me. Doing a course is important because it develops your writing."

Mary's source of inspiration for writing further is her lecturer in creative writing program, David Whish-Wilson. Mary loves digging into history, especially the history of the place she comes from. She comes from the old capital Levuka on Ovalau.

At the moment, she is working on a novel based on the history of Levuka and when she completes the book, it will be a big achievement for her. In fact, all her writing, she says were inspired by the place she comes from.

"It is my town and the people there inspire me in all my writings. I am proud of where I come from." With no doubt English was Mary's favourite subject at Levuka Public School.

"I loved English in high school and I would really like to thank my teachers who shaped my writing from the beginning including Suli Sandys, Sera Lockington, Swadesh Kumar and Frances Pene."

She has been writing for the past 15 years and writing is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. "I always wanted to be a writer. Writing is something I was doing as a sideline thing until I made up my mind that it was what I wanted to do in life.

"I would like to spend the rest of my life writing. It does not matter how I do it but I know I will do it somehow," she said.

Adapted from November 17/11/2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007


KAVAIA Sacuqa's search for employment after completing Form Six two years ago was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

But he never gave up. He looked this way and that way for an opening but there was none. Then he turned to farming and it was a decision that proved a winner for the 18-year-old of Navidamu Village in Macuata.

This week, he harvested the first lot of more than 1000 dalo plants he planted in April. He took 20 bundles of dalo to Labasa market and sold them for $12 each and collected $240.

The amount, he said, was impossible to gain in a week if he had found a casual job. "I am glad I decided to join the Macuata provincial youth group. "They helped me find this self-employed job which has a financial reward," Kavaia said.

"There are programs suitable for youths such as me and especially village youths because the land and sea is around us and we can make use of our resources and earn money from it. "All we have to do is know what to do and for that, we seek advice from the experts."

After joining the youth group last year, Kavaia was sent to the Naleba training centre in September where he took up agriculture courses for three months. While at the centre, Kavaia realised how fortunate indigenous youths are as they own the resources that could be used as a source of employment.

"The thought encouraged me to make use of the land, even the piece of land behind our backyard as it would at least provide money to support the family." The thought was also a turning point for the Navidamu lad who decided to start his own farm and plant dalo and yaqona.

When he graduated from the centre December, he got in touch with an uncle at Wainunu in Bua and asked for a piece of land to farm. "My uncle in Wainunu has huge farms of dalo and yaqona so I asked him if I could plant my dalo and yaqona near his farm on a piece of his land.

"He accepted me and here I am in the market selling my dalo," he smiled. "I have never seen such a rewarding job that can bring in a lot of money. Starting the farm was not an easy job," he said.

"First we had to clear the land, dig it up and divide it into plots. "It was the hardest bit but it all turned out successful and I am seeing the rewards for the first time."

When Kavaia arrived at the market, other market vendors and middlemen rushed to buy his bundles of dalo which had eight or nine big dalos for $12 a bundle. With the money earned from his first harvest, Kavaia plans to expand his farm.

"It is good money and while I have the blessings of my uncle to use his land, I might as well plant more and save for the future. "I am still young and I have a long way to go in life but if I work hard now, only I will reap the benefits later on.

"There is no substitute for hard work if you want to get what you are aiming for in life. "

Adapted from November 15th, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007


Eliki Nabuto started working as a wheelbarrow boy at the age of 14. He is 32-years-old now and still doing the same job, but in a unique way with a whole new start and mindset.
Mr Nabuto is determined and dedicated. He is one of the 20 wheelbarrow boys in the capital city who were assisted by the Ministry of Social Welfare to start up their own wheelbarrow business early this year. Mr Nabuto said the effort by the ministry has given him a new life.

The ministry had organised a five-day training camp in August at Nanukuloa Village in Ra to empower the boys to improve their lives. The workshop was the first of its kind aimed specifically for displaced people of Suva to improve their lives.

The objective of the training program was to develop necessary skills to start and maintain a small business and it also was aimed at achieving a mindset change and to inculcate skills which encouraged better life management. The boys were later awarded certificates, a savings bank account book, new wheelbarrows with their brand name-WEEBEEZ, uniforms and licence to conduct their normal business.

"I thank this interim Government for thinking about us and giving us a new life. Without their kind support we would not be able to be this stable in life. I liked the training they gave us and I was encouraged to do better in my life and get somewhere now. I have so far saved more than $300 in my bank and before I knew nothing about saving. I do feel secure for the future," said Mr Nabuto.

He was interested in continuing with his education but had to leave school while in Form 4 to support his family. He is the eldest in a family of four children and hails from Deuba Village in Serua.

"I have two brothers and one sister and I had to leave school because someone had to look after my family. I started with the wheelbarrow job but also did farming at home and sold cash crops," he said.

In between his teenage years Mr Nabuto also used to do farming at home to support his family. He later tried other jobs but handling a wheelbarrow was what he settled with in the end. "I had worked as a assistant store man for Lees Trading Company, as a security officer, a garment factory worker, a kitchen hand in hotels in the western side but ended up with this wheelbarrow job in the end. I earn more this way and I also enjoy doing this," he said. Mr Nabuto said he used to earn more than what he does today because there was less competition in the field.

"I was earning more before because there were fewer boys doing this job. I used to make $60-$70 per day before and it was even more during Friday and Saturday but now I make about $30-$40 per day and get $60-$70 per day on Saturdays mostly," he said. Before being part of the program, Mr Nabuto used to pay $5 per day to the owner of the wheelbarrow. He is glad that he is his own boss now and is able to save for a brighter future for him and his family.

Mr Nabuto has a four year old daughter named Losalini Tagiri and his wife is Onorina Rokowati. His dream in life is to be a good father and husband and to take good care of his family. He lives at Kalokolevu Village in Naboro.

"I am also looking forward to getting my licence and perhaps start a small canteen business in my village," he said. His only regret in life is that he was unable to complete his studies and he looks forward to studying in the future. Never allow others to let you down is what Mr Nabuto believes in.

"My message to the young people is to do any job that comes your way. Dont be ashamed to do it because you think about what others will think. Secondly believe in God, pray every day and leave the rest to him," he said.

Adapted from the November 8th, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007


Rural postings are always a challenge. This rings true for 40-year-old school teacher, Vereniki Namositava. And he says if you happen to be teaching in a boarding school, it is quite a task.

Mr Namositava is a school teacher at Vunisea Secondary School in Kadavu and is also the school's acting vice-principal.
Vunisea Secondary is the only government secondary school on the island and is the only one that most students on the island go to for secondary education.

Originally from Naivucini in Naitasiri, Mr Namositava has great memories of his 13 years teaching experience at the school. Growing up in the city most of his life, it was a big change for him when he had to travel to work in an island school.

"I worked in rural schools before coming to Vunisea," he said. But those schools were closer to towns and transportation was mostly by cars and trucks. And the environment was very different.

To Mr Namositava, being a Fijian and teaching in a Fijian-dominated school, has not made his work easy for him. In fact, it has opened his eyes to what island children and parents face to get children to school to have a proper education.

He has also learnt that in such settings, teaching children is more than just teaching them about books and what it says, because teachers have to concentrate on the children's upbringing as well.

"Vunisea Secondary School is a boarding school, so staff are tasked with a lot of work," he said. "Most students go back home only during school holidays. Most of their time is spent in school.
"So most of the time when we are teaching, we are just not teachers, but parents and guardians too. It is very challenging."

And having spent 13 years in the school, for Mr Namositava, every day is a learning curve. "When I first started, I felt like a student too entering a boarding school for the first time. I was amazed at most things I saw and heard," he said.

"And sometimes we have to teach students basic things that concern every day living. "I guess students face a culture shock when they come in to a big school, compared to their village schools and more so learning in a big environment that is preparing them for the big world out there."

Mr Namositava taught at Ratu Latianara Secondary School for three years from 1990 to 1993. He graduated in 1994 from the University of the South Pacific with a Bachelor of Science Degree.

He taught for a few months at Suva Grammar School before taking up the Vunisea posting.
Mr Namositava's wife also teaches at the school. They have no plans of leaving Vunisea soon because they are enjoying their stay. The school has a roll of 250 children from forms Three to Seven with 26 staff.

Mr Namositava's challenge to teachers out there is to take up teaching in rural schools, especially in boarding schools. "Most times we take things for granted while in the city and towns," he said.

"It's those small things that mean a lot to most people out there."

Adapted from the November 5th, 2007