Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Being handicapped should not prevent one from working and this is what 36-year-old Filimoni Taubale wants to prove.
The fact that he is confined to a wheelchair yet shines shoes for a living is an example for a lot of people, of any age.
Arriving in front of the Harbour Centre in the city of Suva in a taxi at 7.30am, Filimoni begins his day and finishes work by 8pm.
"I live with my father and older brother who look after me," he said.
"My mother migrated to America in 2003.
"My father, who was a driver for the Ports Authority, is now retired and my mother used to be a nurse."
Filimoni said his mother was a Tongan and father was a Fijian.
Filimoni has two brothers and one sister and he is the second youngest.
"I am from an average family," he said.
Born healthy, Filimoni says he was mistakenly injected with a wrong medicine when he was one year seven months old which caused his disabilities.
He said he had been able to walk but was confined to the wheelchair in 2002.
Born in Suva, Filimoni attended Hilton Special School and only reached Class 7.
He has been shining shoes for 18 years now and says he began doing this job in front of the Queensland Insurance Arcade before he shifted to the Harbour Centre in 1992.
"I was the first one to start shining shoes in front of Harbour Centre and slowly I met all these friends of mine who began doing the same thing as me," he said.
Everyone has dreams but Filimonis disabilities have deprived him of being able to fulfill many of his.
He dreamed of becoming a businessman but had to resort to shining shoes because of his financial needs and disabilities.
Filimoni spoke about the cruel nature of some people, and said he used to be robbed of his days earnings.
"I only want to get up and walk like I used to and that is all I ask from God every day," he said.
Business for Filimoni is not going so well these days as he earns less than $10 a day now, whereas previously he used to earn $15 to $20 a day.
This however, has not dampened his spirits as he says he still enjoys the work because he makes lots of new friends.
Being wheelchair-bound has not stopped Filimoni from enjoying his life to the fullest.
"During the week, I go for movies with my fellow shoe-shine boys and on Friday and Saturday, I go clubbing," he said.
His advice to people is to continue with their education if they want to fulfill their dreams and look for a brighter future.