Humble beginning

Leone Gukirewa ona recent trip to Mana Island Resort where he took a group of Japanese students. Picture: REPEKA NASIKO

FROM the small kerosene lamp on Dravuwalu, Kadavu to the bright city lights of Tokyo, Japan, Leone Gukirewa could only look back and acknowledge his parents struggle to get him to where he is today.

Mr Gukirewa is synonymous to students of Queen Victoria School and Suva Grammar School, the two schools he had taught in for some years before grabbing an opportunity to further his English studies in Japan.

He now plies his trade in Japan as an English teacher and travels in and out of the country while at the same time does English translation for Japanese nationals.

Life has had its fair share of challenges and this Dravuwalu, Kadavu gentleman was keen enough to share the challenges he went through with his six other siblings as they wanted to achieve the best in life and made their parents proud.

It all started on his village where he would wake up at 5am to get ready for school with his other brothers.

“By this time, our lunch was already cooked and we would be ready to go to school,” Mr Gukirewa shared.

“Sometimes, by lunch time, my food had already gone bad as it was cooked at 4.30am.

“This motivated me to work hard, witnessing the struggles my parents went through as they wanted me and my other siblings to succeed in life.”

Mr Gukirewa attended Richmond Methodist High School during his early secondary school days before completing it at Marist Brothers High School.

He went on to land a career in teaching after having completed his tertiary studies and taught on Moala, Lau before going back to his island on Kadavu.

“At the same time, I was doing some extension courses at the University of the South Pacific and I made use of the opportunity of being a teacher in the outer island because there was nothing much to do.

“I spent most nights under the same kerosene lamp our family use daily to study while my wife would accompany me by weaving mats.

“In 1991, I applied for the then Fijian Affairs Scholarship where I graduated with my Bachelors, taught again at QVS for another year before I earned a scholarship to study in Japan.”

Working in Japan has been one of the best experiences the 56-year-old has had so far.

He shared the life of the Japanese people was one that everyone who may have had a chance to visit Japan could learn from.

He says the Japanese people are full of love, respect and care and a visitor would of course learnt so much after visiting a Japanese family.

“For the Japanese people, everything begins at home….now wonder they are such wonderful people.

“When a child grows up, he learns everything at home- church, culture and even education, it also begins at home.

“We are so blessed that we are part of Japan and education was really the key to success. We started off with little and we manage to achieve because I did everything with faith.”

He says life in Japan is very easy and convenient.

As Mr Gukirewa looked back at his humble beginning on Dravuwalu, he could only acknowledged God and his parents for allowing him to push beyond boundaries and achieve more than he could.

The wise words of his father- ‘You can do it’ prompted him and his other siblings to achieve their dreams and live a better life.

Mr Gukirewa concluded that it was important to be nice to people and whatever talent is given to you, do it to the best of your ability, be polite to every person you meet along the way and be friendly.

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