Fiji Time: 6:26 AM on Sunday 18 March

Fiji Times Logo

/ Front page / Features

Lo the fighter

Sikeli Qounadovu
Sunday, February 11, 2018

SHE smiled when I was first introduced to her and with a very soft and commanding voice she said "Bula and how are you? It's very nice to see you."

I responded "I'm good thank you," but behind the beautiful smile, covered up by her make-up and hidden within this audacious woman, are the scars that remind her of the years of abuse she suffered for about two decades.

The scars that tell the story of how her poor choices brought her to her knees and today, has helped shape her to be the woman she is today.

Losavati Kolivuso was born and raised in Raiwai at a time when this Suva sub-urban area was rife with drugs, alcohol and criminal activities.

Educated at Raiwaqa Primary School and the now closed Laucala Bay Secondary School, Lo, as she is commonly called, dreamt of being a lawyer.

"Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer but my dreams changed probably because I was growing up in a housing area where I had a lot of friends.

"I did not complete school and dropped out at Form Five. I did not completing my New Zealand School Certificate. I had to resit the exam but three months at school, I decided to leave again. This time, I also left home," she said.

It is often said every person has been given this freedom of choice, to choose right from wrong. For Lo, her choice was to be associated with friends who led her to drinking and partying.

"I was brought up in a very Christian family. Sunday, we are supposed to attend Sunday school, and then the church service at 10am.

"But then it got to a stage where I started deviating from that, started going out with friends. I was like the black sheep of the family. At that time I thought to myself what I was doing was the right thing to do," she said.

At 16-years-old, she fell in love and by the time she turned 17 she had eloped — by then she had a son.

It was a decision that her parents found hard to comprehend.

"I thought this is it, this is love, that he loves me and he could provide for me, and because my boyfriend was from a well-off family ... he made me a lot of promises but little did I know what was coming ahead.

"I was coming into this family. They had a four-bedroom home which also housed his three elder brothers, their wives and children.

"When I did that all his family came home and told mum and dad they were both disappointed — mum cried for a whole week because I was like her baby, but I thank God that my two sisters did not follow in my footsteps. They went up to university and both have good jobs," she said with a stuttering voice.

There was one thing being promised — a good life with all the riches and all the happiness in the world.

It was when their son was born in 1989 that Lo had to succumb to her aggressive and abusive partner — the man who had earlier during their courtship promised to look after her and take good care of her.

She tried to seek refuge at her parents' home but soon after she had to return to the same violent man who, like a flick of a switch, could be as furious as a burning furnace.

"Mum said this is what you want, you want to be with a guy. You want to get married, and every now and then when I started getting the beating I would run home. When I got home, I would spend the night with mum and dad and then the next day mum and dad would be like 'Lo this is your taxifare, you have to go back because this is what you wanted and the experience you're going to face there is yours alone. We spoke to you, we tried to mould you to be the woman that you should be but that is your choice. So I had to go back and live with him, and had to endure this for 17 years. I had to go, I had no choice."

Despite all the abuse, Lo still tried her best to perform all her duties to the best of her abilities. She would go to work and made sure not to let her experience at home get the best of her. But the abuse followed her to her office.

"It was in 2000 I had a very good job. I was working for Sir James Ah Koy, and I was one of their top sales reps. While working on Naigani Island Resort, he stormed into the office and beat me in the middle of my presentation. He took me home and beat me some more.

"I had to leave the job because my dad had to send me to the US. He had just received his FNPF money and he told me, 'Lo, you have to go'. By this time, I had a huge gash on my head. He told me, 'Lo, you have to go to the US. If you stay here, he is going to kill you'."

On the next available flight, Lo was off to the US but she could not stay in the US because of various reasons.

Despite her relatives begging her to stay, Lo decided to return home.

"By the time I was in the States, I was three months pregnant so I told my mum and dad that I had to come back to Fiji.

"I had to give birth here but I had cousins in the US who were telling me to stay, that there was a good life there. I don't know what made me come back to Fiji but what I told them my mum and dad are still alive so that's what made me come back."

With a son and another child on the on the way, her husband promised to change his ways and begged for another chance to prove his worth and reunite his family.

It was not for long that the abuse started again and reached an extent where she had to make sacrifices. She gave her daughter to a cousin in the islands to be looked after.

"When I came back, we met up again and then the false promises came, saying we were going to do this and that. When I gave birth to my daughter, and when she was three months old, I had to give her away because of what I was going through.

"It was a hard decision to give my baby, and they were living on Kadavu so I had to travel with them to Kadavu and be with them for three months.

"It was so hard leaving her and then mum told me, 'you have to make a choice and then come back and look for a job'.

"My daughter is in university now and she comes home and visits every once in a while," she added with a (stuttering voice).

A perfume, a pillow, a bag and $10

Lo returned to mainland Viti Levu and while on a shopping trip at Laucala Beach Estate outside Suva, she met Margaret Goundar, a former workmate from Naigani.

Margaret had since been working at the Wyndham Hotel on Denarau, and they were looking for an experienced sales person.

Lo travelled to Nadi with almost nothing but determined to get the job.

"It was in 2002, I packed my stuff and didn't tell anyone except mum that I was going to look for work and after two months I would return.

"I bought three skirts, two tops, a pair of shoes, a Bible and a pillow. Then I met my sister and I asked her if she could give me a perfume, so she gave me one.

"I brought a pillow and was planning to spend the night with Margaret. I asked Margaret if I could stay with her for a week — I had only $10 in my wallet. I came for the interview and got the job the same day, what followed was a two-day training.

"I got hired and then on the first Saturday, I had to do two presentations and straightaway managed to bag two deals. I had two big deals and the commission for the two big deals was about $2000. As part of the company incentive, I was given $500 before my commission.

"I took that $500, went to Margie and told her I was going to move out. There was an American guy who interviewed me, and he bluntly told me he thought I would not last long.

"I didn't even think I was going to make it either. I was coming with a goal, I was coming with a plan because I know this is my field and I had done this kind of work before on Naigani."

Sixteen years later and Lo defied all odds, working her way up and rising to become the first local sales manager of the Wyndham Hotel on Denarau.

"I told myself on my first day at Wyndham that these guys are experts in this field.

"Some had been with Wyndham for 20 years but I told myself, 'I can work my way to the top, I can do it'.

"This position was once taken by expatriates, and for us locals we like to believe that way but nothing can stop us. All we have to do is keep believing in ourselves and never underestimating your own potential."

While she never condoned the amount of abuse she had to endure during her 17-year marriage, it's a memory she will try to shelve for good.

Despite the challenges she faced as a young girl in love, Lo is grateful she had to go through those tough experiences because it has made her the woman she is today.

Fiji Times Front Page Thumbnail

Kaila Front Page ThumbnailFiji Times & Kaila Frontpage PDF Downloads

Use the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Code Inward TTs Outward TTs
CAD 0.65100.6320
JPY 53.691350.6913
GBP 0.35690.3489
EUR 0.40560.3936
NZD 0.69210.6591
AUD 0.64290.6179
USD 0.50070.4837



Exchange Rate updated on 16th, March, 2018

Today's Most Read Stories

  1. 'Forced to go'
  2. Man released on strict bail
  3. Speaker orders Nawaikula to withdraw accusation
  4. Former inmates raise concerns
  5. A-G clarifies ownership
  6. Seaweed farming costly for women
  7. Accommodation woes
  8. State to upgrade aging infrastructure
  9. Solar energy project
  10. Lost and found: Missing passports

Top Stories this Week

  1. Sims' 100th game Thursday (15 Mar)
  2. Cessna heroes Monday (12 Mar)
  3. Picking up the pieces Tuesday (13 Mar)
  4. Men urged to marry Thursday (15 Mar)
  5. 'Forced to go' Saturday (17 Mar)
  6. Man to appear in high court for wife's death Monday (12 Mar)
  7. A star in the making Thursday (15 Mar)
  8. Baravilala's ode to Cessna victims Thursday (15 Mar)
  9. The faith Monday (12 Mar)
  10. 7s hunt Tuesday (13 Mar)