The smiling retiree

Teresia Maraia Rainibogi, 78, at Nacamaki Village on Koro Island. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Teresia Maraia Rainibogi, 78, at Nacamaki Village on Koro Island. Picture: JONA KONATACI

UNDER a vaivai tree (Leucaena leucocephala) she sat with two flowers stuck behind both ears, smiling and greeting everyone who passed her.

Teresia Maraia Rainibogi had one of those most beautiful smiles, that it’s just hard to walk past her without uttering a word.

Originally from Tokou Village on the island of Ovalau with maternal links to Vanuabalavu, Mrs Rainibogi has called Nacamaki Village on Koro Island her home for more than half a century.

Mrs Rainibogi was a teacher by profession and spent majority of her 36 years teaching career on Koro Island. She has spent more years on the island of Koro in her entire lifetime compared with the number of years spent on her home island.

Fifty-five years later and Mrs Rainibogi does not feel like going back home, even though there have been the occasional visits every now and then.

“This is where I met my husband, this is where I will retire and this is where I will stay,” she said with a smile.

Mrs Rainibogi was first posted to Kabara Island in Lau in 1962 before moving to Namuka-i-Lau two months later. She returned home to her parents during the holidays and after a request she agreed to move closer to home.

“Because I was a sickly child and my parents wanted me close to them, I was transferred to Koro Island.

“I spent eight years at the Nacamaki District School and that’s where I met my husband and we got married. I was then posted to Vunivasa District School where I spent 12 years before I moved back to Nacamaki District School after my husband was bedridden.

“I also spent three months at Kade District School before I retired.”

In 1993 Mrs Rainibogi lost her husband.

“It was one of the most trying times, I still miss him but now I am single,” the mother of six said with a laugh.

When asked what were her thoughts of our education system she had this to say;

“There is a big difference, children nowadays are very mischievous and I believe some of these new policies and rights these children have been given have made them more mischievous.

“We have our ways of instilling discipline in our children and nowadays I feel sorry for the teachers who have to work within the system and its policies. We have children talking back at them and doing as they please.

“And I believe also everything begins at home,” she added.

Earlier last month Mrs Rainibogi celebrated her 78th birthday.