As a child growing up in Delainavesi Ruci Bula did not envision that one day she would be working to ensure that the safety of her health and that of her neighbours, were kept.
Ruci grew up just a stone’s throw away from the famous Lami Rubbish Dump, infamous for the stench, health problems and illnesses that it created.
Now she is employed as a groundsman on the grassy hill that was once the rubbish dump, and she is doing her utmost best to turn what was once a horrific scene of flies, maggots and rot into a beautiful landscape.
“I grew up in Delainavesi, just two streets away from the rubbish dump with the smell of the stench. After a rainy period, nurses used to visit our area just about every day,” Ruci says.
Funded by the European Union, the Lami rubbish dump was rehabilitated, which saw the whole site covered with a layer of top soil to mitigate the health and environmental impacts which included the elimination of imminent explosion risks and reducing the risk of erosion and landslide of waste deposits.
And now it is Ruci’s turn to help by helping with the landscaping of the area which will be turned into a major recreational park for Suva and Lami residents.
When we visited the site, Ruci was planting some local flowers at the site. As she worked, she told us what work needed to be done to ensure that there was no health or environmental risks.
“I like working here because what we are doing is beautifying the place. I have also learnt a lot about how useful it is to protect our environment. Living in this area all my life, I am glad to make this contribution,” she said.
Ruci has been working at the Lami dump rehabilitation site for two years now and the 27-year-old believes that working there has allowed her to make the place safe again for the public.
“This place has changed a lot and it has beautified the Nadonumai and Delainavesi areas, and so far the health problems have disappeared too,” Ruci says.
She is one of the two personnel looking after the site, ensuring that the drains are cleaned and the park is eco friendly.
“We have been planting grass on the slopes and on top of this small hill with the specific aim of ensuring that there is no erosion into the sea and the Tamavua River,” Ruci says.
Ruci and her workmate plant the Indian grass on the slopes to ensure that soil is not eroded by the constant rainfall and carpet grass on top of the small hill which adds beauty to the place.
On top of that, they have added flower plots at various places to demarcate the area.
“We have seen a lot of difference on the work we have done here so far and one is that the foul smell has completely gone and the rehabilitation work has also made the sea healthier than what it used to be.
“This has also allowed people to make use of the sea again and there are no more health problems,” Ruci says.
Standing on the hill that used to be the Lami rubbish dump, one has an unobstructed view of the Suva City, starting from the Royal Suva Yacht Club and down to the Walu Bay area.
Suva Harbour lies sprawled in front while behind the hill, the busy Queens highway runs on its way down to the Western Division.
As for Ruci, she is glad to create her own piece of history through her contribution to her community in a place she has always called home.