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For the love of kids

Margaret Wise
Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A 49-YEAR-OLD security officer's quest to educate his daughter involves taking a week of unpaid leave from his workplace.

Sounds bizarre, but that is exactly what Savenaca Naliwa is doing this week.

The security officer from Balenabelo Village, Nadroga, has a daughter who is a boarder at Koroinasau District School.

Parents take turns to feed the 31 boarders for a week.

"This week, it is me and my wife Vasemaca's turn," he explained.

"I don't have a choice and, in fact, this is the cheapest option for me in getting my children educated.

"It's a sacrifice we make. We start saving several weeks before our turn comes up, which means cutting back on a lot of things at home.

"It's tough on us and we try to live without a lot of things, we prioritise and then we have to leave our home but I feel it is my responsibility as a parent to educate my child. I want them to be at a better place than me and I know that education is key to a better lifestyle, better jobs and better opportunities. That's what I want for my children.

"I had a daughter who also boarded until last year and now she is in Form 3 at Nadroga Navosa Secondary School.

"The boarders are from Classes One to Eight and the school caters for the five villages and seven settlements in the Koroinasau district. From the main Queens Rd are students from Vatukarasa, which is about five kilometres away. Inland, the furthest village is Naivibuli which is about seven kilometres away from the school."

According to Mr Naliwa, the first choice for boarding was given to children from the furthest villages or settlements.

"So the rest of the children are day scholars.

"I calculated and it is still cheaper for me with this arrangement because parents only have to provide breakfast and dinner. I have a cassava plantation so the menu will include dhal, boiled vegetables and canned fish and other readily available and easy to prepare dishes.

"If I send her to school in town, although the bus fare is free, I have to worry about lunch every day."

The Fiji Times came upon the plight of the father of three after engineering staff from Outrigger on the Lagoon reported spending five hours painting, and repairing the ceiling and roofing of the school as part of the resort's community project.

Mr Naliwa said they were grateful for the assistance provided by the resort.

"We welcome all the help we can get and right now, we need proper beds for the children.

"The ones they are using right now are from timber ripped from around here and put together by another villager.

"If there's anything they need right now, it's to sleep comfortably at night."

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