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Mum's help up the ladder

Sikeli Qounadovu
Monday, March 05, 2018

IN a box her mother carried her to the boat and out to sea for a fishing trip. Whenever she cried, her mother would put aside the fishing line, feed her, put her back in the box then resume fishing.

As a young girl growing up in the Old Capital, Margaret Goundar remained closed to her mum, who taught her everything.

"I learnt everything from mum and mum is not around now and I miss mum because everything I learnt, I learnt from mom — cooking, sewing, cleaning.

"When I didn't know anything, I approach mum, Even my brothers approached mum.

"I lost mum two years ago and I miss her so much. I miss the food she always cook.

"I am today with my knowledge of cooking, fishing, gardening, everything, you name it, because of mum.

"Her words were, when you get married the man that marries you is going to want to eat and wear clean clothes.

"If a woman doesn't know how to cook, well, well!

"I miss my mum very much, I miss her a lot.

"When we gather as a family, they now call me mum even though I am their sister. They always tell me the resemblance of mum is in you.

Born and raised in a family of seven siblings there are so many memories of life back in Levuka.

"There's a lot of good memories. There were times when we want to rule over our brothers but at the same time we always sat down and talked things over and then reconciled.

" There were times where we would all go behind our parents' backs, especially when we wanted to go for a swim. After they said no, we would push each other in the water and then blame each other and then we would go back and we would all get the hiding, and then the next day we would push each other again in the water," she said with a smile.

Educated at the Levuka Public School, she moved to Suva and attended Ballantine Memorial School from 1977-1979.

She stayed home for a while before securing a job where she worked as a barmaid in a diner at Walu Bay.

"When you work in Walu Bay that is a men's industrial area, that's where I met my late husband as well.

"There were times when I had words thrown at me so I just smiled at them and just walked past. I mean, we have to know how to block ourselves from these kind of things.

" My parents taught me well, they always said 'talked to strangers but always be careful'."

After seven years she joined Naigani Island Resort before making the move to Wyndham Resort on Denarau.

"At Wyndham, I started from the floor, started as a sales consultant by selling holiday packages to guests and slowly climbed up the ladder where I am now in quality assurance.

"Eighteen years on and I have never thought of moving on, I love what I do.

"I guess with any work if you don't love what you do then there is no reason for staying on. I love meeting people, I love to meet my guests coming back year after year. That shows me I did something good."

The saying old habits die hard is true for Margaret as she still returns to the sea during her break.

"I own a boat, on my days off I drive down to Ba, get on my boat and go out fishing. I love fishing but it's not only about fishing, it's about taking a break from work and enjoying nature.

"The fish is not only for me, it's for my family. When I drive down to Suva I always take fish for everybody. I share with everyone, I love to share things."

In 2002 she lost her husband of 14 years. It was one of the trying times in her life having to accept the reality that the backbone of her family and soul mate was gone.

"I do miss my husband, education wise, I reached Form 4 but because he had so many books I picked up from him.

"Took me two years to accept, when I drive past his grave to go to my house with only my son and my sister there, then I tend to look up.

"I was advised by Master Mika Yasa, a pastor, I have to be strong and I have to let go so that I can move on. So that has made me stronger and now I can stand against the odds with God's help."

Close to two decades in the tourism industry and Margaret is not calling it a day anytime soon.

"Until my legs can't carry me, I will keep doing this job.

"Moving on, this is where I am going to be. It's not all about the money, it's about the love of the job.

"With locals the only thing we lack is respect.

"When we see a Fijian climb up the ladder, we try and bring him down so we are all at the same level.

"We can all take that position. Anybody can do this job, if only you have the desire and we need to help each other to climb up that ladder.

"We need to respect ourselves."

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