Friday, April 25, 2008


There are many unknown schools in Fiji especially those in the interior far away from urban centres. For Alifereti Nasila, teaching at the Nasikawa Vision College is a memorable experience.
Not only is he savouring the experience of his teaching transition from Ratu Sukuna Memorial School to the Korean-funded college in Sigatoka, but he is also helping the athletics squad improve at the Coke Light Games.
Born and bred in Naitauvoli Village, Wainimala in Naitasiri, Alifereti wanted to be a teacher from early childhood. The thought of being able to help in the development of children in rural areas grow academically is something that has kept his spirits high. While many from the village would describe life there as easy, Alifereti knows different.
Third in a family of six, Alifereti said life in the village is not always a bed of roses. He describes the physical hardships of life in the village as the strength that has enabled him to achieve his dream of being a teacher.
His parents were typical villagers and worked hard to provide all of them with a proper education, something Alifereti is always grateful for.
"I grew up in the village. I was a typical village boy living a typical village life. My parents were Taniela Gonetabu and Mereoni Cagonibua.
"They were also typical villagers and farmers. We lived in the interior and life there was difficult. We managed to survive though.
"I remember collecting firewood and working in the plantations with my father. It was something we had to do to survive in the village.
"Times were hard and we had to sell our produce to earn money. Back in the village, we used all sorts of things that cost money like sugar. So we had to work hard to earn money for this and other expenses like our education. Physically, life in the village was hard especially when there are a lot of things that need to be done in order to survive. This was a good experience for me growing up because it taught me a lot about responsibility and hard work."
He attended primary school at Naivucini District from Class One to Eight.
He then continued his secondary school at RSMS before going to the University of the South Pacific to complete his degree in education. He graduated with a Bachelor of Education. Alifereti was then given his first posting in 2002 to teach at his former secondary school RSMS before being transferred to Sigatoka early this year.
"When I was still in secondary school, I used to play sports and I also used to take part in athletics. In primary school, I was part of the rugby team even in secondary. I used to take part in the 3000 metres and 800 metres races. Unfortunately, I did not come any where but the fact that I tried my best was good enough for me. There is a lot of competition in Suva and even at the Coke Games.
"I have always been interested in the development of students whether academically or in sports. There are a lot of athletes here from Nasikawa Vision College who are very talented. These athletes were placed sixth in the Nadroga-Navosa schools meet.
"They won seven gold medals and that is something very motivating. Most of them do not excel academically but are very talented when it comes to sports. Some athletes might even consider taking up athletics professionally when they finish high school and this is something they can work hard for."
He said this year would be the first time for some athletes to participate in the Coke Light Games. Despite this, Alifereti believes there is more than meets the eye when it comes to these athletes from the 'Sand Dune city'.
He admitted competition at this year's meet would be tough. However, he is adamant there is still that beam of hope for athletes from the College.
"All the athletes are looking forward to the meet and preparations have been positive. Most of these athletes are used to training on grass and coming to the National Stadium before the games is good preparation for them. They will be able to feel what the tracks and grounds are like. It would be nice if the athletes are able to win at the games even if it is a single medal or a win, it would mean a lot for the athletes and the school.
"My advice for athletes participating at the games would be to work hard and strive to excel in every thing you do. I usually talk and encourage the athletes to do their best at the games. It is good also for the athletes to believe in themselves and to always have confidence that they can excel if they put their minds to it. We are all looking forward to the Coke Light Games meet this weekend," he said.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


LIKE many athletes gearing up for the Coca-Cola Light Games this weekend, Penasio Kunabuli has one aim and that is to win gold for Nasikawa Vision College.
Penasio is not a first-timer to the Games but this could be his last and he wants it to be a memorable one.
He said ever since he started coming to take part in the Games, he has been overshadowed by the other sprinters from the big schools but he wants to make a difference this weekend.
Brought up in the village of Votua in Nadroga, Penasio has been involved in athletics since primary school.
He is also a keen rugby player but this weekend is special for the 18-year-old.
He has been training tirelessly for the popular meet and believes he has the will and strength to come first in his events.
Penasio will be taking part in the 100m, 400m and the 4x400m relay.
If the past years have not been that hard for him to win a gold medal, this year will be the toughest, especially in the blue ribbon event.
As a senior athlete, Penasio will be running against three sprinters who are gunning for the gold medal in the blue ribbon event.
The athletes who will provide the hurdles for him are Alfred Smith of Natabua High School, Setareki Tikosaya of Queen Victoria School and Ioane Dovumatua of Marist Brothers High School.
The Form Six student has been taking part in the Coke Games since Form Three and is passionate and confident.
He is actively involved in village life to keep fit and healthy.
"I was born and bred in Votua and my parents are Misiwata and Maraia Lese.
"My father is a dive master and my mother works in the hotel.
"Growing up was easy especially in the village.
"We had everything we needed to survive and life in the village was not that difficult.
"When I was a small boy, I had always wanted to play rugby.
"When I am not busy with school and rugby, I often help out with chores around the house.
"I keep fit by training."
Penasio attended primary school at St Peter Chanel at Korolevu along the Coral Coast.
He runs on the beach as part of his training and exercise.
He said preparations for the Games was tough but a challenge he is willing to encounter.
The second eldest of six children, Penasio has been in tip-top shape and believes there is no greater strength than the one given by God.
He believes hard work, dedication and confidence hold the key to success.
"Ever since I have been participating in the Games, I was mostly placed fourth in my events but this year, I will do better and I believe I can win.
"For me, nothing is impossible. I know I can improve my performance at the Games this weekend and I am looking forward to the challenge.
"I play rugby for my province Nadroga in the Under-19.
"Rugby is something I want to take up when I am older.
"Whenever I participate in my events, I don't feel nervous.
"I always try my best and I always give it my best shot.
"At the moment, I am happy I will be taking part at the Coke Games this year.
"My advice to other athletes is that nothing is impossible.
"If you work hard and set your goals, everything should work out well.
"That's the only advice I have, nothing is impossible."
Penasio and his team mates were at the national stadium this week to check their times and distances and rehearse their baton change.
They will come in again tomorrow for their final preparations before the Games start on Friday.
Penasio says only time will tell who will win the 100m on Friday and the 400m and senior boys 4x400m relay on Saturday.
And when the curtain comes down at the National Stadium, he wants a gold medal hanging from his neck to take home.

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Sunday, April 20, 2008


A PADDLER who went missing during the Waitui Outrigger International Championships at Suva Point on Thursday night said all he could think of while at sea was being eaten by sharks.
A first-timer to the sport, Timothy Fong, 21, was out at sea for more than four hours after part of his canoe broke.
"When I was out on the reef, halfway between the sandbank and the passage, I got caught in a huge wave and the back-arm of my canoe broke," said Fong.
"The only time I saw someone was when the wave took me high up, but when it came down I found myself in the water.
"All I was thinking about was the sharks and I wanted to get back on my canoe as fast as I could.
"I swam for about 20 minutes before I managed to hold it and swim to Makuluva."
Fong said the rubber of his canoe came off and he decided to fix it first.
"It was lucky I had a spare rubber with me," he said.
"After that, I paddled back but was confused where the starting point was because by then it was dark.
"The only thing I could see were the lights from the National Stadium that acted as my beacon."
Fong paddled toward the lights until he saw people waiting on the shorefront.
"When I reached the beach, everyone was shouting.
"I actually thought everybody had left," the relieved paddler said yesterday.
Fong said it was an experience he would never forget.
"This was my first time in this sport and it taught me a lot, especially to be more careful out at sea and never to panic."
Yesterday, the navy stepped up its patrol at the championship after Thursday's incident.
Nadi Bay Club secretary Collette Samson said while Fong was missing, everyone on the beach were concerned and discussing ways to help the navy and a search party that was put out to sea.
"Everybody was extremely worried about him we were just getting ready to go out and help the navy with the search when Fong paddled in," she said.
Fiji Outrigger Canoe Racing Association president Colin Philip
the navy and officials at the tournament were on full alert following the incident. "We definitely learnt something on Thursday and we reorganised our rescue boats today (yesterday)."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


PUBLIC speaking is something most people refrain from. Some prefer to develop the skill privately while others have taken the initiative to practise and improve on their communication and leadership skills in groups.
For 23-year-old Maxine Inia, joining the non-government organisation Toastmasters has helped her grow into a confident and mature individual.
Toastmasters is a group of individuals working to help each other be more confident and competent in front of an audience.
Born and bred in Suva, Maxine is from Itu'muta on the island of Rotuma and had always wanted to be an air hostess. She has a younger brother. Her parents Marika and Mareta Inia had always been supportive of what decisions she made in life.
She said life growing up was like in any other average family.
"There are two of us in the family and my brother is a year younger than me," she said.
"My father is a rugby referee and gets called in now and then to officiate at games. He is also a retired teacher. My mother used to work for the Ministry of Education but is now at home.
"I wanted to be an air hostess because an aunt of mine was in the industry. I kept that aim until I was in Form Six. I just went with the flow and my mind kept changing but I kept wanting to be an air hostess."
Maxine said her family faced difficulties like any other family.
It was not until she reached Form Six that she decided she wanted to work in an office.
"Like all families, times were hard but we managed. I went to Suva Methodist, spent the first term of Form One at Dudley before my father was transferred to Richmond High School on Kadavu.
"I didn't want to go. I was enjoying high school in Suva and didn't want to leave but my grandmother sat me down and told me to go with my family.
"She insisted it was best for me to go with my family."
Life in Kadavu was different from what she expected. Having her father teach at the same school they went to was hard.
Maxine said they were not given special treatment. Instead, they were given a hard time especially when they were expected to follow school rules and not get into trouble. She said even though they faced this at school, it became a disciplinary advantage for her and her brother. They stayed in Kadavu for two years before returning to Suva.
"Life was different then. We were like tourists but we were not given special treatment. Just because our father was a teacher did not mean we could do what we wanted or break the rule.
"They were strict on us and eventually it did us a lot of good. It taught us a lot about life's values, discipline and responsibility.
"After high school, I went to catering school in 2003. At the same time, I had a part-time job at the Enjoy Restaurant, now called Maya Daba.
"I couldn't cope with studies and the job so I let go the job. I then worked for a while at Daikoku restaurant and it was an educational experience. I learned a lot while I was there."
She joined Erasito Consultants as a receptionist in September 2004, a day after her birthday.
She said it was difficult at first to deal with clients over the phone and even her communication skills were a bit rusty.
However, she was determined to make the most of life. She was introduced to Toastmasters, an international NGO started in 1924 in the US.
"Toastmasters is compulsory at work. When I first heard about it, I was like hell no' because I saw the participants had to give impromptu speeches. So I sat, listened and observed what was going on and I thought it was really helpful.
"When I was young, I could socialise and communicate with other people but not formally.
"Before, when I used to communicate with clients, I used to eat my own words. I spoke so low that even the person next to me could not hear what I was saying.
"So the experience was an eye-opener for me and I've never regretted doing what I am doing now. I am more confident and can communicate more formally than before."
She said the organisation met every Tuesday and there has been a lot of interest from people as young as 14 years old.
With new-found confidence, Maxine has her sights on working for the United Nations in development or social work.
Like all kindhearted beings, Maxine strives to help those in need.
Her advice to young people is to enjoy life to the full and make the most of what you have.



Monday, April 14, 2008


DAVID Whiteside reaped the reward of hard work last week when he walked away with a gold medal at the Fiji Institute of Technology graduation.
For the 23-year-old, it was the end of many sleepless nights and anxiety.
He said he made it by being committed, passionate and trusting in the Lord.
David won a gold medal in Digital Animation Techniques.
He went to Holy Trinity Primary School in the capital before joining the Suva Christian Community High School.
He furthered his studies at the FIT for one and a half years before graduation.
David got married in 2006 to Litiana and they have a wonderful daughter named Bianca who is 14 months old.
In receiving the honour David said he was proud of his achievement.
"This really makes me proud. It's a great achievement for myself especially after the sleepless nights I had and time away from my wife and daughter.
"To me it was worth it."
He said without sacrifice and commitment, he would not have passed.
Sometimes, he had to go without food, no sleep while he studied and worked on his projects.
"To be successful in what we do, we have to make a lot of sacrifice." he said.
"You have to be committed and passionate because without passion you won't be committed."
David believes that putting his trust in the Lord is one of the key values to his achievement and success. "I thank the Lord for giving me the strength, wisdom and the knowledge which enabled me to do well in my studies."
As a young boy, David wanted to be an artist.
This was mainly through his uncle John Robinson who has been a great source of inspiration and a role model for him.
He said not only was he a great artist but a great father too.
This are the two things that drives him to being an artist and a family man."When growing up, I was very much into watching animated movies and cartoons and i used to wonder how they were done.
"That is how I was interested in studying it."He said he would apply to a couple of advertising companies for a jobs and then continue his studies in his field.
David said hard work and sacrifice would bring glory at the end of the day.
He said if people set their goals right and work hard toward them, they would definitely achieve it. "To young people, I would like to remind you of the Bible verse from the Book of Psalms 37:4 which says "delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart". "I would like to thank the Lord for being my source of strength, my relatives, my wife and my grandmother, not forgetting my daughter Bianca and uncle John for inspiring me."


Adapted from Fijitimes Online

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Zuber Ali Azimullah (pictured) believes nothing is impossible if people obey their parents and believe in God.
Zuber, 21, who is the eldest in his family, has two sisters and one brother. He attended Suva Muslim Primary School before moving on to Suva Muslim College where he reached Form Three. He later spent one year doing vocational studies, before moving on to help his father in their family business.
Zuber said he left school because his father fell ill. He had to stay home and look after their cable business Maqs Cables.
"It was very hard for me to leave school at an early age especially when I saw my friends going to school but I had to do it for my dad and for the family," he said.
Zuber said his father didn't give him a choice to pursue another career because he wanted him to be part of the family business.
"When I was small, my dad used to tell me that I would have to work in our cable business which he started in 1991," he said.
He said even though he didn't like it at first, listening to his father's advice and respecting his instructions, he was able to see himself succeeding.
He never went through proper tertiary education but stayed home and learnt from his father and now he is running their family business, specialised in manufacturing, designing and repairing cables.
"I learnt from him. When I was in school, sometimes I couldn't do my homework. It was different in the workshop where I helped my father out. That's how I learnt this job."
He said the most important people in his business were his customers and he would try to meet their needs everyday.
"I make sure I provide them with what they want. I can do any kind of cable even if it's difficult, I would try and do it for my customers."
He believes God was always there for those who tried and would always be available for guidance and provision.
"All we have to do is to trust God and never give up hope," he said.
"As it happened to my dad and me, I'm sure good things can happen to anyone who believes in Him."
Zuber said he was able to overcome difficulties in life which allowed him to learn new things. He said he has never regretted following his father's advice and would continue to hold up the name of their family business.
Zuber advises young people to listen to their parents and serve God.
"There are only two things I would recommend for young people nowadays. Obey and listen to your parents and serve the Lord with a good heart. Without God we won't be successful and He is the only ally we can count on."