Wednesday, July 18, 2007


LIFE in the islands may sound idyllic but the truth is far from the picture postcard perfection most people imagine.
People who live on outer islands and in the interior of the main islands have to struggle and work hard to get by.
For those on the islands, inter-island trading vessels are usually their only link to other communities while those in the interior often rely on horses or their feet for transportation.
Today people flock from village life for urban centres in search of education and employment.
In all such movements, parents want their children to become somebody in life and that is how a well-spoken island girl went on to become a teacher.
Being encouraged when she was young gave her added impetus to work towards her dream.
The village setting is not a new environment for her because she was brought up in a similar environment.
A simple island girl, Katalaini Waibuta, 41, from Tarukua, Cicia, Lau, was born and bred in the village.
She is the second eldest among five siblings, all of whom were taught by their parents to work hard and persevere in life.
"Father was of a great inspiration,"she said.
"He was a Post Master at the time with his little salary he was able to pay the school fees for my brothers and sisters,"she said.
Katalaini is married to Saimoni Waibuta of Burebasaga, in Rewa, and they have two daughters and a son.
A graduate of the Lautoka Teachers College and a teacher for 19 years, she has worked in rural island schools as well in the urban setting.
She says having taught in Fiji-Indian-run schools, she learnt a lot and that is why she is desperate to do well.
"So I try to make a difference in the Fijian schools that I go to."
It was with that mind-set that she went back to teach at Cicia District School in her village before moving for five years to Kavala Bay Primary School.
"By the end of 1993, I bought a house in Davuilevu, Nausori, which is of great help, especially in trying to meet payments. I found that living in towns is not easy,"said Katalaini. "We have a car now but it is not easy owning one. The high school boarding upbringing helped me try harder and never give up,"she said.
Apart from teaching at the Davuilevu Methodist Primary School, Katalaini is a Scouts District Commissioner for the Nausori District.
She trains young Scouts to become good citizens and responsible leaders of tomorrow.
"With the skills they have now, we have to motivate and encourage them to keep on trying to do their best in order to love God and their country."
She said being away from home when she went to the University of the South Pacific to pursue further studies and raising a family proved a great challenge.
Katalaini made a sacrifice for studies, leaving home to stay on campus so she could keep focussed on her dream.
She tries her best to complete her assignments on time and to study hard before her final examinations.
Katalaini said there she had friends, lecturers and others who helped her achieve her dreams.
"Back in the village, I used to visualise coming to Suva for an education, before finding a job or even going overseas,"she said.
"I am happy with my achievements and I try to help young ones to dream of big things in life, to widen their reach and imagination, so if they do not get there, at least they feel good about themselves.
On top of her responsibilities, Katalaini helps out in the church Sunday school because she believes that without God, life is of no value.
Her advice for young people "is to shoot for the moon, and don't worry if you miss it, you will land on the stars. Never give up. Whatever you do, do it sincerely and honestly. Life is full of challenges. Overcoming them makes you strong.