Blessing in isolation

Master Simeli Druavesi with his two children Epi (left) and Atu cross the Sigatoka river on their way to Matokana village. Picture: SIKELI QOUNADOVU

WHEN Master Simeli Druavesi and his family were transferred to Vakacereivalu Primay School, they did not know what to expect, only to be told it is one of the remote schools on Viti-Levu.Eight years on and Master Druavesi proudly says that teaching at the school has been a blessing. Vakacereivalu Primary School is located deep in the highlands of Navosa and is attended by mainly children of Matokana, Draubuta and Naimasimasi villages.

“It’s been an honour to serve in one of the remote schools in the Nadroga/Navosa education district, and to serve there for eight years, we have come to feel, that it is being normal for us. The daily challenges the villages have to take, hiking, trekking to get to the village and go to Sigatoka for shopping, we feel we have been part of that. “We can now say we are from Matokana. After those eight years everything has been normal, “Epi (younger son), we carried him up when he was only three months old and today he is taking the same trek on his own. So we can say we have been challenged and we have overcome those challenges,” said Master Druavesi.

Seventeen years in the teaching profession, and Master Druavesi says he has enjoyed every single moment.

“Not even a single second will I trade this profession for another; this is a calling and also a blessing to experience this kind of situation to come and teach and to experience this kind of situation, I would not have asked for a better profession than to be a teacher in this place.”

When asked whether he wanted to transfer to another school he said; “We had wanted to transfer a few years back, but untill now, being part of Matokana, we can continue for another eight years but as long as we have the will and the power we can still continue, if our services are still needed here.

“Three of our students are part of Natabua High School, Lelean (Memorial School), Nasinu (Secondary School), others have joined the technical colleges. The retention rate for our school in education has been steady in its progress, only a few return to continue with village life.”

Master Druavesi also had this to say for aspiring teachers and those already in the profession.

“For those teachers that have the luxury of travelling in vehicles to get to the school, you have to try this kind of experience, to become a real teacher to leave your comfort zone and come to enjoy this experience, where you have to walk six to seven hours to get to your stations. The daily challenges where you have the luxury of being accessible to shops and entertainment centres. You should try and I challenge you to come to these kinds of places where you can excel.”

Located deep in the highlands of Navosa, it takes more than seven hours of trekking from Baravilevu (the nearest dirt road) through the rugged terrain to get to Matokana.

There are other access points to the village, but this is the main access point for the villagers when transporting their produce to the market, delivering the housing supplies back to the village.

The village can also be accessed from Waibasaga Village or following the old logging road from Nawairabe Village.

Villagers of Matokana late last month confirmed that upgrades to the road have started and vehicles have managed to reach the village.