PEOPLE: The man who fixes shoes

Sanjeev Avitesh Prasad repairs shoes in Suva. Picture: ATELAITE RACIVA

Thirty-year-old, Sanjeev Avitesh Prasad is a common friendly face you might have seen walking into the city through the Suva Municipal Market as you pass the Market Police Post.

Sitting opposite the door to the police post, Sanjeev is usually greeting people as they walk by asking them if their shoes or bags need mending. Sanjeev grew up in the Capital City in a family of three other siblings with their widowed father.

“When I was about eight years old, my mother passed away. I was really young at the time and my oldest sister took care of me like a mother would from that day on.

“I am the third child and have a brother older than me and a sister younger than me. Our eldest sister Ashwini took care of us like we were her children when our mother passed away.

“Growing up I enjoyed playing soccer and back then we were not as fortunate as children these days who have their school fees paid for by the Government.

Back then our parents had to pay for school fees. It was tough with just my father supporting us, so I was fortunate to be good at soccer and school would take me in and the PEMAC department in those schools paid for my fees while I represented the schools in soccer.

“Throughout primary school I attended Arya Samaj Primary. Then when I moved on to secondary school I attended four different schools. I attended DAV Boys College and then Dudley High School, Suva Sangam College then finally Suva Muslim.

“I used to be a bright student but when my mother passed away, I went through a tough time and dropped academically.

I was just an average student the rest of my years in school. My last school, Suva Muslim, I did vocational training and learnt to do Automotive and Mechanical Engineering and attained a Certificate in this trade.

“After secondary school, I worked for CDP Courier Services as a mechanical engineer for about one and a half years.

“I then worked for my brother in law’s canteen here at the market handling sales for him from 1pm to 8am.

“I used to watch my brother-in-law fixing shoes and I saw the money he got with each shoe he fixed. It is easy money. I thought I could do this too. I watched him closely and later he took me under his wing to teach me properly.

“In 2020, I set up my own spot in front of the Market Police Post and I’ve enjoyed this job.

“It’s easy money and I enjoy being self-employed. I enjoy a job where I can interact with people though it might not seem like much to others, I’m proud to say I take care of my family with the money I make here.

“My father used to work as a security officers at the Samabula Hospital but now the family depend on me and I’m proud of the work I do. Since my father remarried, I have younger siblings now. My sisters would encourage me to get another job since I have a Certificate in Automotive Engineering but I prefer this and hope to one day make something of myself using this trade.”

Being a soccer player in his young age, Sanjeev said his love for sports is great. However, besides sports he takes on welding as a hobby.

“In my free time I love swimming and creating something new from welding metal together.

“My advice to people would be to never disrespect someone because of the job they do. No job is too small or too big. If you can feed yourself, your family and keep a home with what you earn at your job, you should be proud of what you do.

“My only ambition in life is to do enough to take care of my family and the people I care about. If I one day become successful in life, I’ll never forget where I started. Fixing shoes and bags for strangers by the Market Post,” mused Sanjeev.

“I think the key to being truly happy in life is to be happy for people when they are succeeding while we wait our turn. I am proud of my siblings, especially my oldest sister who is a Real Estate agent now. She raised us and now she’s successful and I am so happy for her especially since her husband i s the one who taught me this trade,” he said.

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