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For women and their families

Luke Rawalai
Monday, November 27, 2017

AT the age of 73 when most woman are minding their grandchildren and living a peaceful existence, Alama Dibaleiloa feels it is her duty to serve the 73 women in their village by looking after their welfare.

The mother of four is the brains behind the development of women in her village.

Married to the 83-year-old clan head Paula Mawa, who is now bedridden because of his age, Ms Dibaleiloa feels it's her duty to guide the village women and initiate plans with them to bring development to their families.

"I have 23 grandchildren and I am proud to be living at an age where I get to appreciate the second generation after me," she said with a smile.

"Personally I believe that the work that I do spending time with the women in the village has kept me alive and kicking.

"I have been told by many that at this age I need to hand over the running of the women's group to the younger women but I believe that it is my calling to render whatever support I can give these women.

"Working with these women has given me space to think and it makes me spend my time meaningfully, dedicating it to the betterment of our women."

Ms Dibaleiloa said the women in the village were fundraising to build their hall.

"With these efforts in mind, we have been able to open our village canteen which is bringing in money for us," she said.

"Recently, we were working with the Ministry of Agriculture to start our own nursery for vegetables.

"The vegetable seedlings planted in the nursery will be circulated freely among villagers first, and once this has been achieved, we will then sell vegetable seedlings to nearby villages.

"We have some exciting times before us and I am praying to the Almighty that He keeps me alive to witness the construction of our hall."

The proud grandmother lists her greatest achievement as seeing her four children establish their own families and be successful in life.

"I also want the same life for the women in the village and their families," she said.

"This is why I spend my time working with women for their betterment because I believe that bettering woman's life will also better the lives of their families.

"I have to take out my hat to the women in the village though for their hearty support to the Soqosoqo Vakamarama and giving their time for our common vision.

"Their efforts make people like me want to do better and achieve more."

At her age, Ms Dibaleiloa still goes out to sea to collect food for her family and even has her own vegetable farm.

"I also watch what I eat because I believe that whatever we put in our mouth to nourish our body will have a bearing on our health," she says. "It is sad to see people dying at an early age because of diseases that are caused from their lifestyles.

"The iTaukei people should be the last people on earth to be dying early because we have a healthy and nourishing diet. Our people need to return to the farm if they want to live longer."

As part of her talks with women during meetings, Ms Dibaleiloa always encourage them to develop healthy eating habits for them and their children.

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