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Island life for teachers

Matilda Simmons
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

When primary school teachers Kwaja Mohammed Faiz and Rusiate Tava were sent to Yadua Island three years ago to teach, they did not expect the challenges ahead.

Kwaja of Valelawa in Dreketi and Rusiate who hails from Ono-i-Lau said they had to psyche themselves up for the road ahead.

"This place face a lot of water issues. So we rely on rain water and if there's none we use an old acquifer the villagers have been using for generations," shared Kwaja.

According to locals on the island, Yadua is famous for its unique dialects which is sourced from different parts of Fiji.

If you listen closely you'll hear a bit of Yasawa, Ra and Nadroga dialect coming out. It's fascinating and both schoolteachers say they've picked up on it.

"Teaching is a calling, and you have to have the passion for it," said Rusiate.

"Even if it means going out to some of the remote places."

The school on the island was recently damaged by a massive landslide in December last year.

This hampered the work of the schoolteachers and students as they improvised with what they had so school can continue normally.

"It was good that it was still the holidays when the landslide occurred," said Kwaja.

"None of the children were in the classroom. Right now we're using a new classroom block that was built in the village so the kids can continue normally."

Both 23-year-olds say they're enjoying their stay on the island.

"I love the hospitality here and the villagers really look after us well.

"Being the only Fijian of Indian descent in a largely iTaukei community has not made me any different," says Kwaja.

"My family is just nearby in Dreketi, and on some weekends, I steal off home to catch up with family. Growing up in a rural farming community is no different to life here and I'm making the most of it.

"I've just signed a seven-year teaching contract here. Who knows where the world would be in seven years time," he said with a smile.

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