PROUD Taveuni volunteer fire officer, Maria Bulavakarau was all smiles after receiving a medal for being the best performing team player at the National Fire Authority (Northern) awards night.
Ms Bulavakarau was among four other brave young women who joined the National Fire Authority (NFA) in Taveuni as volunteer officers.
The 25-year-old Waitabu native said her pride in serving her people and the passion for the work motivated her to be a volunteer and ensure that people on her island are secure and out of harm's way in the case of a fire.
"It was awkward when I first joined the field because this is a male dominated field, but my passion for the work really changed my views," she said.
"Now, all fire officers in Taveuni are like one big family, uniting together to perform our best when disaster strikes.
"I have a message for all women out there; everything is possible. All you have to do is put your mind to it and push the extra mile, where there is a will there is a way," she said.
Another female volunteer fire officer, Kelera Vela of Saqani, Cakaudrove said she enjoyed the work from day one and that the other female volunteers in the team have been a huge support for her during trying times.
Marisa Berenadeta of Qeleni, Taveuni, said the work was demanding at times since they were not paid, but the support from the two senior officers was overwhelming.
Taveuni Fire Station has two permanent fire officers and 26 volunteer officers.