FIGHTING for the rights of the elderly is reason enough for 21-year-old Shiwagni Karishma to put her fears aside and take up the daunting task of being a beauty contestant at the 2013 University of Fiji Sugar Festival.
Representing Golden Age Home in Lautoka, the physiotherapist is fighting for a cause she considers very close to her heart.
"I grew up without my grandparents around," she said.
"I lost them both when I was very young but being around the residents of the home, I see my grandparents in them."
Ms Karishma said the rights of the elderly were sometimes pushed aside or ignored.
"I want to raise awareness of our elderly because they are the reason we are here in the first place.
"We should not forget about them and we should make every effort to ensure they receive the best possible care they deserve."
Ms Karishma said her 10-month voluntary work at the Golden Age Home opened her eyes to the realities of how some elderly citizens were treated by their very own.
"I have come across some residents who have been abandoned by their own children and it is a very sad thing to witness."