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Fiji Time: 1:28 PM on Wednesday 17 September

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Deaf, mute and a breadwinner

Serafina Silaitoga
Monday, September 28, 2009

EVERYONE has his or her share of problems. But that has not stopped 13-year-old Aselemo Drotini from contributing to support himself and help his parents put food on the table.

The 13-year-old boy of Wailevu, Cakaudrove, is mute and deaf but is a cane cutter at Seaqaqa.

His earnings are used for his family's daily needs.

He does not attend school because the special school in Labasa is too far for him to travel to from Seaqaqa every morning and his parents can't afford it. In sign language, Drotini explained how his interest in the cane field started.

Pointing at his dad, Rusiate Josua, Drotini said he would not be working if not for his support.

With his right thumb up, he said he loved the job.

Mr Rusiate said Drotini dropped out of school three years ago because of financial constraints and could not afford life in Labasa Town.

He asked Drotini whether he wanted to work with his dad on a cane farm and earn pay between $100 and $150 in three weeks.

Mr Rusiate said Drotini started cutting cane with him two years ago.

"He earns his own money and buys his clothes and other needs a young man needs and gives part of his earnings home.

"Drotini is a matured boy and uses his money wisely.

"He always asks what we want but everytime we refuse to take his money, he just throws it at us with a smile on his face," Mr Rusiate said.

While talking about Drotini, the slim boy silently stood beside us and smiled, knowing he was the subject of the morning.

His farm manager Lino Cabelawa described Drotini as a hardworking boy who never likes to rest during his job.

"Of all the cane cutters we have on this farm, Drotini is the hardest working. We keep reminding him to rest.

"From the first day we took him in I have never regretted that decision because of his commitment," Mr Cabelawa said.