Showing posts with label Labasa people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labasa people. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2011

Volunteer nurse at Wasavulu

from w
Here's an unusual story from Labasa about a 'volunteer nurse' at Wasavula, the place where the ancient stones stand or fall, a reminder of Fijian history. Though he has not done the formal training of a nurse, this man helps people who live nearby with their ailments. I do hope that the medical people in Labasa give him some fine first aid books and equipment and that he knows to send on serious cases to the hospital which is actually not far away! St Johns Ambulance, Red Cross and others can train interested people to do first aid, but still need to recognize which sicknesses they cannot treat. Every village needs to have at least one first-aider on hand. However, Laisiasa should not be called a nurse but a first-aider.
from Fiji Times today:
Laisiasa follows his dreams
Salaseini Vosamana
Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The photo is labelled - Village nurse at work. Laisiasa Maduanavanua, offers medical treatment to a child in Wasavulu Village. Picture: SALASEINI VOSAMANA

BEING a volunteer health worker for more than five years in a village is not an easy task, considering the amount of extra effort and time spent without receiving proper wages.

For Laisiasa Maduanavanua, 47, of Naduri Village in Macuata, working as a village nurse without good earnings is a profession he dreamt of when he was young.

The second youngest of seven siblings, Laisiasa grew up in the village with a lot of financial constraints.

At that time, having $2 in his pocket meant everything to him.

In an interview with The Fiji Times last week, Mr Maduanavanua said he did not complete his education because his parents could not afford to pay his school fees. He was one of the brightest students in class but unfortunately, he only reached Form Four level.

"After completing Form Four, I joined Nasoso Lay Training Centre ù a Methodist mission school near my village where I learnt about God and His kingdom," Laisiasa said. "Life was hard during my school days because there were seven of us in the family and my parents found it hard to cater for our education. Enduring the hardships and the pain my parents went through, I decided to leave my family for Vatukoula to work at the Emperor Gold Mine," he said.

While it was difficult for him to leave his family behind, Laisiasa said he had no other option but to look for other means of survival to financially support his family.

"After working in Vatukoula for more than three years, I decided to join the Denarau Resort as a bartender.

"My family's livelihood was at a stable point because I was able to support them financially. All those years, something always triggered my mind telling me that my line of work did not lie in the tourism industry or the goldmine. The idea came about when I remembered that I had always wanted to become a village nurse ù to save rural dwellers especially the children in villages."

In 2005, Laisiasa started his volunteer work in his village. He said a lot of the villagers criticised his work when he first started because they did not have faith in him. He said most injured villagers did not trust him to treat their wounds because they knew he did not have any understanding of being a health worker.

"At times I felt like running away from the village because of the pressure from the villagers but my dreams of becoming a village nurse assured me on the job," he said. "I attended a health workshop in 2006 where I was taught all the necessary steps of becoming a village nurse. I was grateful because I knew the villagers would stop their criticisms of me. It did stop but there was a big problem I continuously encountered when I was empowered as a volunteer village nurse. My first aid kit supply was always short because the villagers kept coming for treatment. I thought that was a very good sign because it meant they recognised my work. I had liaised with health officials and they were able to assist me with my supply. Even though I was not paid for my service, I enjoyed my work because I was able to help the villagers. The hospitals are far from the village and some villagers find it easier to visit me for treatment because I'm always there to help them out. Earlier this year, I moved to Wasavulu Village in Labasa where I was appointed to be the village nurse. The geographical condition has changed a lot but it does not really affect my service. I am enjoying my work every day."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some babasiga family

from w
Here are some of Rick's photos when he was in the Labasa/Mali area last year when Peceli showed him around. Some are of the children of Vatuadova but also includes pictures of Sera, Uncle Samisoni and Peceli in borrowed clothes going o a church.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meanwhile in babasiga land...

from w
While decisions and declarations in Suva are seemingly made around the kava bowl, ordinary things are going on in Labasa - the traffic lights don't work, there are not many fish at the market, and people struggle on to live their lives as gracefully as possible. One newspaper, short of stories from the capital, have little stories from the Friendly North. Vina'a va'alevu Fiji Sun journo.
Concern over lights

The only traffic light at the main crossing in the middle of Labasa Town has not been working for the past few months. That means pedestrians have a longer wait before they get a chance to cross the road.

One pedestrian, Ratu Iliesa Kationivere, said he got very frustrated waiting for endless minutes at the crossing for the vehicles to give to people wanting to cross the road. “This is the busiest time as parents come with their children to buy school stationery,” Ratu Iliesa said. He said it had been many months since the traffic lights had been covered over.

A Namara resident, Rohitesh Raj, said many times he had seen people with disabilities facing great difficulty trying to cross the road because no one paid them any attention. “When the traffic light was working they just pressed the stop button and after a short wait vehicles would stop,” he said. He said people put their lives at risk trying to cross the road there now. Mr Raj said it would be better if a policeman was stationed there until the lights were repaired.

And another story about a man living at Tuatua housing in Labasa although the heading of the article is a bit of a spin.
Williams supports State reforms
Former Labasa mayor Lesile Williams supports Government’s reform programmes.
Mr Williams, 81, lives in Tuatua Housing outside Labasa Town. “When I look at what Government is doing to develop our country, I remember the days when I was the Labasa Town mayor,” he said. He said Government’s work on building new roads, bridges, and schools made people’s lives better. “It is good to hear that the plight of people living in interior areas is considered by Government,” he said.

Mr Williams was born in Levuka, Ovalau on August 14, 1929.

He said serving as a mayor had been challenging. He was sworn-in as Labasa mayor on October 21, 2006. “Many times my councillors refused to listen to me and walked out the door leaving me sitting alone in the meeting. Sometimes I did not know what to do and felt like stepping down. My grandmother, Adi Sauca Lalabalavu used to tell me to never give up easily and always face challenges,” he said.

Mr William is now retired and spends most of his time doing backyard gardening.

“I feel peace at home and very grateful to God for giving me supportive children who look after me well now,” he said.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Living alone in Labasa

All alone ... Akisi Lobawai outside her home at the edge of mangrove patch in Namara, Labasa.
from w
Some people don't want to live in a community but in Fiji that's quite unusual. However here is a lady who built a shack in a mangrove area to get away from it all.
Lone Squatter
Theresa Ralogaivau
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
ALL alone in the world, Akisi Lobawai, 60, was the first person to start a squatter settlement in Labasa more than three decades ago. And though she calls it the most peaceful place on earth, post-Cyclone Mick Ms Lobawai said she desperately needs a new home. Ms Lobawai lives in a rundown shack, with a leaking roof and cardboard to cover the windows and keep out the wind. The floorboards of the small wooden house creak when she walks about while a small wooden extension outside is hazardous, missing several planks and with a roof that looks dangerously close to flying off.

Ms Lobawai said she moved about 30 years ago to the edge of the mangrove swamp because of sour relations in her village. "Here I am at peace with myself and the world," she said. When the strong winds of Cyclone Mick battered Labasa, Ms Lobawai's house shook so much she thought it would collapse on her. "I need a new home, but I made little from gathering qari (crabs), which I don't do anymore because of my weak knee," she said. "Leave me here, but I just need a new home and any help I can get is welcomed."

Ms Lobawai is from Nasekula Village, which is less than 10 kilometres away from the mangrove patch. But she had no heart for living in the village after her parents and brothers died. "I'm all alone now in the world and sometimes it makes me sad," she said. "But my neighbours of all races are around. I was the first here, and then other people slowly moved here, all had gone through a tough time. Here with me are farmers whose leases have expired who have nowhere else to go. Single mothers who cannot afford to rent in town. There are villagers from Bua who want their children to receive a good education. And here we have managed to live with each in harmony. We don't fight because we all share the same challenges and so there is peace."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Harry Yee from Labasa passes on

from Peceli,
I read in today's Fiji Times that Harry Yee, the elderly man from Labasa, 101, has passed on. His grand-daughter had told us last week (in a comment on our earlier blog posting about Harry Yee) that this had happened. I knew Harry as everyone did in Labasa over those years.

Centurion passes onSERAFINA SILAITOGA
Thursday, June 12, 2008

PIONEER businessman and oldest surviving Chinese businessman of Labasa Yee Foon Gau or commonly known as Harry Yee, who died a fortnight ago, was laid to rest last week. Mr Yee died a month away from his 102nd birthday. And even at the age of 101, Mr Yee, who arrived in Labasa in 1929, continued to do business from his Yuen Hing Store, which sits in the heart of Labasa Town.

Mr Yee arrived in Fiji in 1927 from Hoi Ping, China and worked in a vegetable farm in Tamavua before attending Saint Paul's Chinese School in Suva to learn English for about a year. During his young days, he worked for Kwong Tiy's in Suva, Labasa, Lekutu and Nagumu in the North where he was a bread delivery boy walking miles to Vuo Village outside Labasa Town where the government hospital sat. He also walked to the Vaturekuka prison and town area to deliver bread which he carried in baskets tucked under his arms.

Mr Yee, in a Sunday Times profile interview last year, mentioned how Labasa Town had no vehicles at all when he arrived and only four wooden buildings in the town area. He said in the interview that people those days only travelled by boat or on horseback to do their shopping from the four shops in town.

Mr Yee also mentioned how there was no telephones, no electricity, no market and no nightclubs. He labelled the town of the early days as an innocent town that did not care much about alcohol and night life but about the welfare of the people.

Mr Yee, who is survived by his four children, was the founder and president of the Labasa Chinese Community and started the work of the Chinese cemetery which led to its construction outside the town.

He was a member of the Fiji Red Cross Society and Old People's Home.

Business people, chiefs and community members of Labasa gathered at his funeral to farewell the last of the pioneer businessman of Labasa who saw the town's fortunes and wane through the years.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy birthday Wendy Lala

from w.
I posted this story a week or so ago then deleted it because the photos were a bit too personal. Okay, here goes again with different pictures. The story is about what happened twenty-one years ago. Happy birthday Wendy for Saturday.

Watimeli’s Baby

I am enjoying cotton-wool lazy days as my Fijian husband is overseas. Our three teenage sons are surfing at Torquay. It's 1987. The phone buzzes: a reverse charge call, international. ‘I’m coming back Tuesday. I’m bringing visitors.’
This isn’t unusual. Extras in the household are common; in the Shenton manse in Ryrie Street, Geelong, where we live, there is always room for the extended family or homeless people. The house which is a cheerful mess will have to be cleaned up.
On the Tuesday evening there is a call from Melbourne. ‘We’ve arrived safely. We’ve taken a sick girl to St. Vincents. I’m bringing her father, Bameti, home. He's from Wailevu. Dr. Schramm asked me to help this family. The sick girl had to be brought to Labasa hospital by boat in the middle of the cyclone. Heart surgery in Australia is the only way to save the girl’s life, the doctor said.'
Three nights later, a phone call at 1 a.m. comes from the hospital. Watimeli has gone into labour.
I am amazed. ‘I didn’t know she was pregnant!’
Peceli wakes Bameti to dress up immediately. They drive to Melbourne to comfort Watimeli during the birth process. The premature baby girl – born three months early- and in the Heart Ward of St Vincents is shunted immediately to the Mercy Hospital.
When I meet the patient, gaunt like a long distance runner drained after a marathon, I ask if the baby has been named yet
‘Yes,’ says the girl, who is about twenty years. ‘She’s named after you. Wendy!’
The naming gives a sense of alarm of an on-going relationship. I walk to the Mercy hospital a few blocks away. Though the nurse encourages me to touch the baby's arms and legs, I cannot.
A week later Watimeli comes down to Geelong to gain strength before the operation for a heart valve replacement. Now 100 K separate her from little Wendy. In visits to Melbourne, both Watimeli and I feel uncomfortable with the prem. baby attached to tubes.
A month later the baby is transferred to the Geelong Hospital. Her limbs are strong and she is going well. She is nearly five pounds in weight so soon is allowed to go ‘home’. Baby paraphernalia is given to me from friends or bought in op. Shops. Our sons complain about the crying - until they start to talk and play with the newcomer. The church folk make a tremendous fuss over the tiny brown baby with the strong dark eyes, lying happily in a basket.

The operation for heart valve replacement proceeds and Watimeli becomes well enough to join the household. Now bonded with the infant, I am unwilling to give the baby up but I obtain a birth certificate, a passport photo, then a Fijian passport from the Fiji Embassy in Canberra. The baby is not allowed to be an Australian citizen as the mother had come on an emergency medical visa. When Wendy Junior is twenty-one, maybe then she can.
Several hospital bills come our way even though we had been promised free treatment. Some are waived, some we have to pay.
Watimeli tells us about her boyfriend, a Part-European youth who lives in Nadi. Her parents would not allow them marry. She already has a son to him, staying with Bameti's family. I wonder what her future will be as a single mother, but with the Fijian extended family there will always be someone to help.
At Tullamarine airport, Watimeli looks so well and little Wendy, now strong but still small, is swaddled in a blanket. There’s a massive amount of overweight luggage and there are no concessions and no allowance for the baby paraphernalia. We have to pay up heaps.
I let them go, return to Geelong to my routine of easy-going family care but I miss little Wendy very much and cannot concentrate when I go back to Deakin studies. I am still soft, and floppy and maternal-minded, not in the mood for academic study at all.

Eight months later there’s a phone call from Labasa, Fiji. ‘Watimeli’s very ill. She’s bleeding and in Labasa hospital.’
‘What happened?’
‘She was playing volleyball. Something in her chest just fell down.’
I feel breathless but can only say, ‘Keep in touch.’
Next day there is another phone call. Watimeli has died at the Labasa hospital. There is no sophicated heart machines there. This is terrible news.
‘Who’ll look after her baby?’
‘Her grandparents. Bameti and his wife in Mataniwai village.’

A year later Peceli and I are in Fiji: partly for an assessment of the situation after the 1987 coups. We visit Mataniwai village during a drenching dowpour and present a whale’s tooth to Bameti in respect of Watimeli’s death. I want to meet the little girl. As the family push the little girl forward, her dark eyes fill with tears when confronted with me, the beige-coloured Australian woman who is now a stranger to her. Tentatively she sits on my knee, just for a minute. She has sores on her arms but she is surviving.
I walk alone in the rain to visit Watimeli’s grave near a stand of mango trees. The mound is covered by a colourless tapa cloth. I am distraught by the waste of a young life.
A week later we are back on the Ratawa sugar-cane farm. Bameti’s family arrive with the little girl and boxes of her clothes. They want to give her to the Ratawa family for an informal adoption. I whisper to Peceli, ‘We can’t take her to Australia – the trauma would be too much. She’s had too many care-givers and mothers.’
He suggests, ‘My sister Suliana can take her.’ In her household there are already four informally adopted children including a little girl of one. Evia, my other sister-in-law has had eight children so far so gives a little girl, Pinky, to Suliana.
Suliana agrees and Ateca will help care for the little girl.

That was nearly twenty-one years ago.
Small Wendy knows she has an Australian family though I was not courageous enough to take that child on full-time again. Suliana became her grandmother and Ateca her new mother. So that makes her our grand-daughter.
I email Wendy Junior these days. She has left the Friendly North sugar-cane community to study in Suva and has already passed one certificate at the Fiji School of Technology, a course that will equip her to work in tourism. She is a beautiful young woman, tall, smart and her eyes are bright and black like the eyes of her mother, Watimeli.

When I see young mothers today fussing over their babies, putting them on their backs to sleep - because of SIDS, I think of Wendy when she was a baby, and how she slept on her tummy, and looked like a turtle, and the song Peceli sang to her. Wedi na yalewa re, na yalewa duadua e vale. It was about a baby girl who lay down like a turtle.

Here is a picture of Baba with Pinky and Ateca with small Wendy.

Here is a picture of Wendy Lala, almost grown up now with one of the young relatives.

Anyway, happy twenty-first birthday Wendy for Saturday! Have a lovely party in Labasa with your friends and large extended family.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Brij Lal, a son of Labasa

An inspiring man, a writer, an intellectual, Brij Lal is a son of Labasa who lived as a child a few k from the present-day Vatuadova village. Here is an interview from today's Fiji Times with Professor Lal.

Fiji, a home like no otherVERENAISI RAICOLA
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Times: What inspired you to write about issues regarding Fiji Indians?

Professor Lal: I wish I knew; for the creative process is mad, full of inexplicable twists and turns. Mysterious even. I suppose it is a desire to make sense of things. I don't quite know what I think, what I have experienced unless I imagine it in words. I feel unfulfilled if I don't write. I feel something vital is missing from my life if I don't read and write. It is an addiction.

But there is another reason. The world which formed me, the self-contained, self-sufficient rural lifestyle, is slowly disappearing as people leave the village and as modernity laps its outer-edges.

I want to be a witness to that world which was once so important for me but of which I am no longer a part. There is very little written about the village world; the fears and hopes of the rural folks, so you have to recreate that vanishing world through imaginative reconstruction.

We hear a lot about the movers and shakers of the world, the politicians and the bureaucrats, but little about 'little people' who lie beyond the range of official statistics, beyond official recognition: the housewives, the lovers, the workers and primary school teachers; those who have lost out on life. I want to capture some of the inner lived experience of their lives.

Times: What are some of the difficulties faced by Fiji Indians in terms of identity here, in their motherland (India) or when they migrate to other parts of the world?

Prof. Lal: I think you become conscious of your unique identity when you step outside your own cultural world. You realise how Fijian you really are when you live in another culture, among other people. Your language, your sense of humour, your food, as well as habits are different, unique. As the years advance, you suddenly realise how important your place is in your life, how deep childhood memories are. I cannot make sense of my life without my Fijian identity.

Times: How is that a problem?

Prof. Lal: In this country, we are called Indians, but when you meet the real Indians, you suddenly realise how un-Indian you really are in your habits of thought and behaviour. The Indian world of horoscope and hierarchy, the obsession with protocol and ritual, of one's proper place in the order of things, means very little to you.

Self-made that we are, we are impatient with things set in concrete, with restrictive tradition.

I have met Indians from the Caribbean, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, Singapore and Malaysia. One thing we all have in common is our unique identity. We have an affinity for the 'cultural India', not the 'political India'. We have more in common with each other than with Indians from India. In fact, there is a kind of tension which animates our relationship.

I don't have any of that with people from the Pacific Islands.

Times: Have attachments to Fiji changed?

Prof. Lal: Our attachment to Fiji is a function of generational change. I was born and educated here. I am a part of its history and culture. Its landscape moves me: the feel of warm rain on freshly mowed lawn, the smell of burning cane, and the swollen brown rivers.

Fiji will always remain my spiritual and emotional home.

I am not sure that it will be so for my children who have been formed by other influences and who have spent virtually all their lives in other cultures. They don't necessarily share my passion or obsession with Fiji though they honour it. They are, in a sense, citizens of the world.

Times: What feelings do Indians have when they are forced to leave because of political upheavals and land lease expiry?

Prof. Lal: People leave Fiji for a variety of reasons. Many feel uprooted and unwanted, trapped and terrorised. Many leave because they are fed up with uncertainty and diminishing opportunities for themselves and their children.

But the emotional bonds linger, especially for the first generation; the umbilical chord is impossible to break. They keep in touch with developments in Fiji through a variety of ways. Travel and technology have revolutionised notions of attachment and citizenship. It is no longer a case of either/or; attachment to a country cannot be measured by a piece of paper. It is a commitment of the heart and the mind that matters.

Times: You grew up in the village but people like you managed to be immensely knowledgeable about the wider world probably more than most children today.

Tell me a little about that life that you exposed in the book Turnings Fiji Factions.

Prof. Lal: The world which formed me has vanished. I grew up without paved roads, and running water, without electricity. Both my parents were illiterate. I was the first one in my family ever to complete high school and go on to university. There was no counselling about careers. There was no television, radio was new, there was no Internet, no iPods, and no mobile phones.

It was, in some ways, the dark ages. Yet, people of my generation from that kind of background have travelled places, made something of themselves. We were from the village but were immensely knowledgeable about the world. There was a hunger to know more. I really am not sure if that is the case today.

We had teachers who took their profession seriously, not as a stepping stone to another career. Our pursuit for excellence was driven by desperation. There was nothing to return to if we failed. There was no safety net, no one to lean on for assistance. So we strove hard and burned the midnight lamp to be successful today.