Living it tough in the highlands

Angie Druavesi with her son Mosese, 1, at their home in Matokana Navosa. Picture: SIKELI QOUNADOVU

THE first time Angie Druavesi travelled to Matokana, her son Epi Druavesi was three months old.

It was a trip she first found tiring and exhausting. Eight years later, she is still surprised she manages to survive in a school where the nearest dirt road at one time was a six to seven hour trek through the rugged terrain of the Navosa highlands.

Last year, she experienced first-hand the struggles the women of Matokana had to go through during pregnancy.

“When I was five months pregnant, I had to trek for five to six hours, either walk or go on horseback for my monthly check-up at the nearest health facility and then I had to return to the village.

Then, I had to follow the same trek when I went for my clinic a month later and when I was seven months pregnant,” said Mrs Druavesi.

At eight months pregnant she finally made the final trip to deliver her fifth son. “This place is really a difficult place but my inspiration has been the women of Matokana.

If they can do it, I too can do it. I see them carry out their chores with a lot of smiles and they are a happy bunch of people.

“In addition, my family also has been my inspiration and that’s the reason why I am strong and determined,” added Mrs Druavesi who is also a teacher at Vakacereivalu Primary School.

For other women of Matokana, some have had to experience giving birth in the village. Eleven years ago, Lusiana Lesinayawa miscalculated her delivery date and as a result, had to deliver her baby in the village. With the help of her late father, sister-in-law, and aunt, she successfully gave birth to a healthy son, however, had to wait another week to regain her strength in order to ride a horse to take her baby for the clinic.

“It was a very difficult time and I cried and prayed to God to save me and my baby. I was still not strong enough when I went on the horse but I wanted the best for my son that’s why I had to endure that six to seven hours horse ride just so that my son could be treated,” she said with a stuttering voice.

Today, her son, Viliame Turagaborisi, is 11 years old and a Year 6 student of Vakacereivalu Primary School, who wants to be a teacher when he grows up.

The struggles of women of Matokana could soon be over with road upgrades being conducted by the Fiji Roads Authority.

“It is good to see the 14km of the Matokana Village access road work well underway. Previously, there was no road, and just mountainous terrains and forests, however, we have now seen vehicles going through to Matokana.

We also saw a Health Ministry vehicle providing medical services to the children of Matokana,” said FRA chief executive officer Jonathan Moore after visiting the village earlier this month.

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