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Special connection

Sikeli Qounadovu
Monday, February 12, 2018

CALL it paranoia, but every now and then Vika Veiqaravi still talks to her grandmother and says how much she wishes she was still alive.

"I recall my grandmother always wanting me to be beside her and to always follow her.

"Back on the island in Moala, going to the plantation was a fun part of life, following the elderly ladies out at sea, going fishing, running around the beach — that's the fun part I can recall," she said.

"I still miss my grandmother a lot. I still have not gotten over the fact that she has passed away.

"I think of her a lot. I talk to her when I am at home and when the kids are asleep because I have a special album that has my picture with her when I was still a little girl.

"It's a special picture where she is weaving the basket and I am sitting there looking at her with my hair all over the place.

"And when I always look at the picture I always say, 'How I wish she was here so we can go and catch fish and weave baskets for the kids'. Now I dont know how to weave mats and baskets and my imagination continues and I end up crying."

Originally from Waitabu on Lakeba, Lau, Vika, as she is commonly known, was raised in her koro ni vasu (mother's village) in Vunuku, Moala, Lau.

She was about to turn six years old when she lost her grandmother and it was the likely reason that led to her being moved to Suva.

"I was very close to my grandmother. I remember that particular day when she died. I remember running around trying to find a boat to take her to the next village because there was no health centre in Vunuku.

"To me, my grandmother was my everything and I think probably that is one reason my parents sent me away from the islands because they knew that I felt my whole world just turned upside down.

"I was closer to my grandmother than to my mum. I was blaming everyone for her death because she was sick and did not reach hospital in time.

"I was blaming everyone and often asked why she did not find out earlier that she was sick, why didn't anybody get the doctor right away and so on," said the 40-year-old mother of six.

At first, she found it hard being in a new environment and trying to adapt to life in Lautoka was something she had to acclimatise quickly to.

Educated at the Lautoka Methodist Primary School, she continued her education at Ba Provincial Secondary School before completing her secondary education at St Thomas High School, with the childhood dream to be a flight attendant.

"But then I found out what a flight attendant did and then I changed my career. The main reason also was because I refused to continue my studies as I was bored with school. I just wanted to work so I started off doing merchandising.

"So straight after high school, and one month at FIT (now FNU), I ran away and came to Nadi and started working.

'And I don't regret making that choice because at that time I knew at a later stage that the experiences will benefit me."

She started working at Benson and Hedges in Nadi and after three months joined Musket Cove Island Resort where she worked for nine years.

"I spent nine years on the island, and that's where I met my husband. After nine years, I knew my kids needed me because they were growing up so I applied for a position here when it was still Trendwest back then," said Vika, who is now the quality assurance representative for the Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific based on Denarau.

With six children and a demanding job, Vika is usually the first person at work and the last one to leave,

However, on her days off she always finds time for her children.

Life is always about making a lot of sacrifices and being honest in everything we do.

"A lot of people see this type of work as only for the expats but we are made for this job," she said.

"Remember, all we've got to do is believe in ourselves and have the right mind-set."

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