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Broken dreams

Atasa Moceituba
Thursday, October 12, 2017

HER dream of becoming a counsellor was shattered after she lost both her parents, especially her mum, whom she looked up to.

If there's one thing Sainimili Naivalu has learnt over the years, it is to accept her limits and go beyond them.

Sainimili, 32 was born with sacral agenesis — a congenital disorder in which there is abnormal fetal development of the lower spine — because of disability she had to move around in a wheelchair.

Originally from Beqa, she attended Hilton Special School during her school days and is the youngest of four siblings.

Unfortunately for Sainimili, she was not able to attend a "normal" school because the chances of schools enrolling students with disability were rare back then.

"I always dreamt of becoming a counsellor when I grew up. Unfortunately, things changed after I lost my mum in 2006. My whole world tumbled because I didn't expect my mum to go so suddenly. I wasn't prepared to let her go," she said.

Trying to accept her mother's death and the fact she needed to move on was one of the biggest problems Sainimili faced.

"My two sisters got married and had started their own small families while my brother went to Lau and I was all alone. It was really hard coping especially when there's no one to lean and rely on.

"This was when I realised that I needed to get a life."

Every morning as on every other day, Sainimili said she would leave her home for the corner of Thomson St, where she and her friend Akata Sabusa, sit silently smiling at every passer-by.

Over the years Sainimili has managed to survive through Government's social welfare assistance scheme and money saved from begging on the streets.

Money earned from begging was used to cover other expenses such as deodorants, money to get to where she wants to go and other expenses.

"The food vouchers provided by Government are not enough. That's why I ended up on the street because at the end of the day, we all need money to survive since life is hard.

"Government is only covering food. What about our medical expenses, who's going to pay for it if something happens to us?

"As much as we don't want to, my friend and I have no option but to beg."

Looking back Sainimili said one of the greatest things was meeting her partner who accepted her for who she was.

"I'm blessed and fortunate to have met someone like him. He's always there for, loves me for who I am and a understands me better

Sainimili said there were times when passers-by looked at them "differently" because of their disability but she said they would remain positive despite the challenges they encountered everyday.

She encourages the public to lend a helping hand and reach out to those who need help.

"Please don't look at us differently because of our disability, we're also normal people who need your support and love."

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