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Vinod's a survivor

Shayal Devi
Monday, November 06, 2017

IT can take only one unpredictable event to change the course of one's life. Take Vinod Kumar, for instance.

The eldest of five siblings, he was the quintessential elder male child to second-generation farmers who had settled at Vitivanua in Tavua.

His future seemed bright as he was doing well in school and nursing dreams to become a teacher one day.

When he was a teenager, his life changed invariably after being involved in a car accident while returning from Ba with his cousin.

"My right kneecap was damaged and they had to fit a metal plate to help me move," the 52-year-old recalls.

"I was hospitalised for quite some time and for me, my future seemed so bleak. I really wanted to become a teacher so I went back to school.

"Things didn't fall into place because I failed my Form Six examinations by two marks and it was very disheartening."

It got to a point where Mr Kumar says he felt as though all options were off the table.

His family stepped in to assist him at a time when he needed it most and soon enough, he began to help his father man the family farm on which they grew sugar cane and raised livestock. Helping his father seemed to renew his purpose and he took to life with a renewed vigour, determined to give back to those who needed it.

"I have been farming since and this is how I have managed to survive.

"Since I was the eldest, the responsibility of this farm fell to me and through earnings here is how my siblings got married.

"My father passed away in the '90s and my mother a few years after him. I live with my brothers now and they both hold very good jobs but I stick to farming. We have about 10 people in the household.

"I mostly tend to do sugarcane and livestock farming but it has been a little hard in the past year because of the dry weather and the cyclone."

About seven years ago, he was given the chance to be part of something bigger and expand his presence in the community.

"I was appointed the advisory councillor for areas from Vitivanua to Yaqara and I look after 105 households in the area plus FIJI Water and the pastoral company."

Despite the turbulences in his early life, he says things have changed for the better.

"This is what I'll continue doing. I am very happy we have gotten a lease renewal for 50 years so I will continue with farming while I am here."

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