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A family's sacrifice

Sikeli Qounadovu
Wednesday, January 03, 2018

SOMETIMES parents are forced to make one of the hardest decisions of their lives, to give up their child for a better life.

Parents have to make the choice whether they want to hold on to their child or let go to be adopted by a family who can take good care of their child.

There are contributing factors to these — one being that some parents are incapable or financially unstable to look after themselves first.

Globally, there are those adopted children who have risen above the ranks and have become international superstars in their own discipline.

Former US president Bill Clinton, the late South African president Nelson Mandela, singer Faith Hill, John Lennon, Sera Mclachlan, Tim Mcgraw, film stars Marilyn Munroe and Jamie Foxx were all given up for adoption.

It was in 1997 and 15 minutes' drive from Suva, a young Samu Kerevi was about to leave his family behind, bound for the Solomon Islands with his new family.

"When he was two years old, he had been living with our neighbour and when they prepared to go to the Solomon Islands they wanted to take him with them," said Samu's father, Nimilote Kerevi.

So why was the young Samu living with his neighbours.

"Our neighbour's late wife is my wife's aunty, and because of our family's reputation they decided to take him in.

"Our house was often raided by police because my brothers were former inmates. There would be frequent drinking parties and violence and our neighbours who happen to be our relatives did not want Samu to experience all this, so they would take him home and look after him.

"Kinoya, at that time, was well known for criminal activities and my family was often pinpointed whenever there was any criminal activity in the area."

In 1997, Peceli Ciriki was posted to work at the Commonwealth Secretariat in the Solomon Islands. He was to move with his family and wanted to take Samu with him.

"When they asked us to take him with them, it was a difficult decision for us, because his older brother had been raised by their grandparents in Lautoka, and he was the second eldest so it was a pretty hard choice.

"But it was a choice that had to be done, and until today, we have never regretted that decision to allow him to travel with them. I remember the day he left; it was very hard for his mother and I. It was a painful farewell but we thank God that we made that choice," said Mr Kerevi.

Despite being far away, they were in constant contact and Samu visited them quite often, the first being 10 years after leaving Fiji.

"We would call him and I must thank God for the guidance and protection; He has been with us in this journey. And I must thank our relatives the Ciriki family for looking after Samu. We watched from afar and saw his progress in age grade rugby until he went on to wear the Wallabies jersey.

"I remember when Samu was still young, our family was often victimised, criticised and labelled as a family of criminals. We had fingers pointed at us and it was really a tough time for us.

"But what Samu has done has changed the way people see us, and today he is an example and a rugby star and we would just like to thank God for everything," said Mr Kerevi, who is also a former national football rep.

Michael Oher, a professional American football player who was adopted, said, "It's true that we can't help the circumstances we're born into and some of us start out in a much tougher place than other people. But just because we started there doesn't mean we have to end there."

Oher's success story inspired the Academy Award-winning movie The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock.

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