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 Fijitimes.com November 8th, 2007