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Help for dad and me

Solomoni Biumaiono
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Alipate Ledua put on a steely face when I met him again for the second time within the space of one week in the cold damp and crampy space of his one-room house at Jittu Estate in Suva.

The rain and mud did not do any good as navigating our way through the maze of houses in Jittu is a task on its own and with boots caked with mud, Ledua's invitation to enter his house became an arduous task.

The week earlier I had met Ledua to take down his story about the struggle he is going through with his 13-year-old daughter Sigalima Savukigau trying to make ends meet after his wife walked out on him several months ago.

Unable to walk and with a teenage daughter to look after, Ledua was desperate for help and after his story was published in The Fiji Times it seemed like a miracle has taken place in their lives.

And despite the gloom of the rain, Ledua radiated a smile on his face that light up the atmosphere in the room.

"I still think I am dreaming because help came to us immediately from complete strangers and the only thing I can take away from this is my heartfelt thanks to those who turned up to help and also for me, in listening to other people's advice," Ledua says.

The day Ledua's story was published, the Queen Victoria School Old Boys Association president Anasa Vocea was so moved, he personally went and visited Ledua and his daughter.

"I would like to thank the QVSOB and their president who came around on Monday afternoon to personally visit us as well as the staff of Telecom Fiji Limited," Ledua says.

Ledua says that the old boys from QVS had already enrolled his daughter at Dudley High School where she will begin Form Three next year and had paid for her school fees for next year.

"They have also bought some kitchen utensils and other stuff that we need around the house like curtains," he adds.

QVSOB secretary Poasa Koroitamana says they have taken on the plight of Ledua and his daughter as their pet project and are willing to continue with her education through high school and beyond.

"This is not the first time that we have helped children in need of an education as we had already helped others and one of them went through QVS and is now in university," Koroitamana says.

Grantham Plaza Police Post officer Corporal Asaeli Tuevu says two other companies, VT Solutions and Seaview Shipping have also offered to pay her school fees through high school and even offered to pay for her tertiary education, provided that Savukigau does well in her school work.

The 13-year-old girl has even been thanked by people on the streets who recognise her, for having the courage to look after her physically handicapped father.

Her father Ledua says two bread shops approached her daughter and said that whenever they need bread for their breakfast they shouldn't hesitate to contact them.

Cpl Tuevu adds that he has been overwhelmed with the number of people who have been trying to get in touch with him to offer their assistance in any way they can.

"I even got a call from the Fiji ambassador to Japan who wanted to help and also members of the Fijian community in Australia and also some staff of Telecom Fiji came by and we took them up to the family and they donated some money," Cpl Tuevu says.

Cpl Tuevu and Grantham Police Community Post chief Deo Singh says the plight of Ledua and his daughter is one example they are hoping to use to help the rest of the communities that come under their jurisdiction.

In fact it was Cpl Tuevu and Singh who first let the world know of Ledua and his daughter's plight.

The Community Post is looking after a wide area between Milverton Rd and Shalimar St and stretches right down to parts of Wailea settlement.

"People who need assistance and help not to hesitate to come forward to the Community Post and we will try and assist in the best way we can," Singh says.

Cpl Tuevu adds the reason police posts have been changed to community posts is to try and make the community take ownership of the posts and use it to their advantages and also to bring lasting peace and security.

"If anyone with our community is willing to volunteer their time and to be part of the team they're more than welcome to come and share their ideas with us," he adds.

All through this general show of humanity, Ledua's only words are words of thanks and he is also aware of the negativity that comes along with his plight.

"I know some people are saying that I don't have any pride by going public with my story but to me that is not the important thing and it does not matter. The important thing is that I have assured my child of an education and to me that is satisfaction enough."

"For as a parent I know that everything is not about me anymore but it's all about the children. If it means losing my pride and being publicly ridiculed in order for my child to survive? I will do it!" Ledua says.

His friend and someone who had helped him spiritually in the past three years Josua Qaduadua of the Oneness Pentecostal Church who said he had seen Ledua's transformation.

"I was here from the time he was unable to sit up at all right up until now and I must say that he has come a long way, especially too in spiritual terms he was deeply scarred with what he went through.

"I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to all those people who are willing to help them with their lives," Qaduadua says.

This week, calls were still coming in to The Fiji Times newsroom from people wanting to help both father and daughter through financial or other means.

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