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Mela beats the odds

Sikeli Qounadovu
Thursday, January 18, 2018

HER upbringing motivated her to strive for great things. Seeing her parents struggle to put food on the table inspired her and today she is one step close to achieving her goal of bringing her family out of a life of poverty.

The eldest in a family of two siblings, Melaia Rakanace will be attending the University of the South Pacific after scoring 339 marks out of 400 in the Fiji Year 13 Examination while attending Adi Cakobau School.

Life has not been all that rosy for the 19-year-old. With her parents and younger sister they have had to move from house to house because, apparently, they did not have a house.

Originally from Komo in the Lau Group but raised in her mother's village in Nakorovou, Rewa, the teenager has faced a lot of struggles even to this day.

After moving from house to house, the family received assistance that saw the construction of their own house — a corrugated iron shack located near their farm.

"It was only a few pieces of roofing iron sheets and this is what we used to build our house," said her mother, Litiana Vuto.

Her father, Josaia Tauyavu, sells coconuts while her mother catches land crabs and fish in order to meet the family's basic needs.

"We were fortunate that FENC Fiji (Foundation for the Education of Needy Children) came in and assisted us.

"Ever since primary school, FENC Fiji has been assisting Mela and we are really grateful. It is really a hard life but we have to keep on moving and we have never lost hope," she said.

In a week, the family can rake in between $60 and $90 from selling their produce, just enough to sustain the family.

"Despite what we go through at home, it did not affect my studies," Mel said.

"In fact, it encouraged me and pushed me to excel in school.

"I look forward to completing my studies, getting a good job and then look after my parents and younger sister," said Mela, who has enrolled for a bachelor's degree with double majors in computer science and information systems at USP.

Today, they are living at a relative's house while their home remains near the farm.

"I don't want our house to be demolished. I want it to stand there and act as a reminder of the life we had to go through," she said

Mela was educated at Dreketi District School before moving to Vunimono High School and then completing her secondary education at ACS.

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