Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in Connnect.  I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

A Second Chance

Sinda Rela (not her real name) went back to school when she was 38. She lived in the interior of Vanua Levu and spent her primary school days there. Life was tough because there were many of them. Food was not plentiful and she walked six miles to and from school and what she loved about school was walking. She is still fit. But this is a real life story of one of our very own who struggled through life because of circumstances. She finished her primary school days in the village and then went with her dad to Viti Levu because he was a farmer and had bought a piece of land in one of the more fertile places near Suva. She went to a secondary school near the farm. A few years after she finished Form 6 her dad passed away. Life got even harder. They all left the farm to take their dad's body to Vanua Levu to be buried on their land. Unfortunately her schooling days came to an end.

She stayed back in the village and a dashing young man came a courting and they were married. Life for some is such.  How you cope with issues is what makes you what you are. They had children and they were soon walking the six miles to and from school that their mother knew so well. But this young woman had a plan, not a dream, not a mission and not a vision. Yes she had a plan.  

She planned that her children were going to get a better life then her. She bided her time and as they grew up she told them, “I will take you to Viti Levu so you can go to the good schools over there. And as soon as the eldest passed his FEYE they said good bye to the village and were gone. Her husband soon found a job in a security company and food was put on the plate and school fees were paid. They lived with relatives for a while because they had to. At night the children used the kerosene lamp because they couldn’t afford electricity.  Then she decided to get a job and worked as house girl in a neighbour’s home. The children were delighted because they could butter their bread. Sinda never cared about what  people thought and she told her children this. They were strong kids.

Then she got an offer to work in a supermarket mopping the aisles and cleaning the toilets. Yes, she was a cleaner. Sinda used to go and chat with the boss’s secretary but little did the secretary know Sinda was watching what she was doing and every day she learnt something new. One day the secretary was away and the telephone rang, “Hello, Nellas’ Supermarket, May I help you?” she gushed in to the mouth peace. She had answered her first telephone call. Then she watched the typist doing the spreadsheet and word documents and filing and answering customers' questions and even the stock cards. She watched how stock orders were made and kept it her secret. She was getting good. Then one day the typist had to go on leave, given by all good business to their employees. Sinda was asked if she would oblige. She sat in that seat just like it was made for her.

After a while, a new manager came along and saw her desire to learn and asked her to bring some qualification so he could promote her to office assistant. She brought her Form 6 pass from the village. It was not enough. The boss enrolled her in a tertiary institution to do a certificate in office management. The day she started she was out of place. Half the class were younger than her eldest child. But she didn’t care what anybody said. Her plan was in her mind. She fitted in well with the work because she had studied at the office.

Then one day when she got home her children said, “That’s right, now you know how we feel when we get home work. Hahahahahaha" and added, “That’s the problem. You never finished school and now you want to go back.”

She looked them in the eye and said, “Please listen to me carefully, children.” Brushing aside a tear that had so unkindly appeared in her eye, she said,“This is a lesson to you all. School properly so you can do better than me. If you go to school, do the work, don’t get distracted. Don’t follow the other children. If you drop out they will not care about you, and you may end up doing a cleaner's job

One child asked, “Mum are you crying?” She said, “Yes, Son, I’ve been given a second chance to get a certificate in office management and I am thankful to the Almighty for sending a good boss who saw my needs and my talent.” All the children were quiet for a while until their Dad walked in and smiled. “You should be proud of your mother," he said. "she is a good example to you guys. I earn $80 a week working twelve hours a day and I still put you through school, all of you. We ate badly and we never took lunch but we survived.”

Today Sinda and her husband have nine children in school, one is working in an up market hotel, one is a Man-of-the-Cloth, two are in tertiary school, and the rest in primary school. They live a life of contentment, not pleasure. The children will have better lives because of a plan their mother had. They don’t complain so much because they take their strength from their parents, especially their dear mother who said that her plan was going to be fulfilled and nobody would stop her.

You ask if this story is true. Believe me, reader, it is. She is my friend. I told her when she graduates I will make sure the TV people and the newspapers are there so that we can tell people like her that they too can be like her and they can take a page out of her life. To me it's like a Fijian fairy tale.

Sinda had a plan not a dream.


E dua na tukutuku vinaka sara ga said…
What a great story, Allen. Truly inspirational. I, like many others, look forward to your weekly talanoa about what affects ordinary people in Fiji. Keep up the brilliant work and thanks, Croz, for giving Allen the platform for some wonderful story-telling on your site. After all the politics, it's such a refreshing change. There are hundreds of stories like this in Fiji but they never get told. We need more of them to remind us of what really matters. Vinaka vakalevu.
Habakuk said…
Thank you Allen.
White Frangipani said…
A wonderful inspirational story Allen. It puts us here in NZ to shame. Looking forward to hearing about Sinda's graduation - it would be great to put a face to Sinda - the amazing wife and mum in the story.
Allen said…
Bula White Frangipani, Habakuk and E dua na tukutuku vinaka sara ga ...
Am doing a special write up for her, will publish when done ... She is indeed an inspiration....
Allen said…
Bula vinaka folks... Cinda Rella has graduated with a Certificate in Office Management from the Fiji National University. Will post her life story and real name soon. And if Croz will allow it, I also have her graduation picture. She spoke at the International Women's Day celebrations held at the Fiji National University in Namaka Nadi. Women from the Western Division were invited to the celebrations. She has been invited to go and speak to women's groups around the area. Straight after the speeches a mother of FIVE came up and hugged her and asked where she could enroll to get a diploma in office management. She works at a resort in the West. There were many tears shed when the women heard her story and how she struggled as a mother of NINE to get to where she is. She earn $120 per week and her husband is a security guard. At the moment she works as cleaner at the University. She hopes to get a job that pays better. She is a committed Christian and a wonderful person and an inspiration not only to women but to all of us.

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