Stuck in Fiji – Uriam longs to return home

Kiribati national Kareketaake Uriam, 25, at the launch of the OPOC Reports at the Pacifi c Islands Forum Secretariat in Suva in February this year. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

COVID-19 restrictions such as border closure have distanced many relatives, one is Kareketaake Uriam who is longing to meet and hug her family members.

Uriam, originally from Tarawa in Kiribati, is currently working in Fiji, away from her family and friends.

“I came to Fiji in March last year as I started working at Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, based in Suva,” she said.

“After shifting to Fiji, I did not face any major challenges but I think COVID-19 affected me a lot because I could not meet or go back home.

“I wanted to go for Christmas last year to celebrate with my family but I couldn’t because of the closure of the border.

“At the moment I am here without my parents who are back in Kiribati. I wish that everything goes back to normal so I can go back again to Kiribati and meet my parents.”

She said despite longing to meet her parents, her cousins, fiance and friends’ support in Fiji was overwhelming.

“It’s really sad to be alone but the support of my three other siblings here in Fiji makes me feel less lonely.”

The 25-year-old considers completing her degree studies at the University of the South Pacific as her biggest achievement in life so far.

“I am very thankful and consider myself privileged to have got to complete my degree and be part of this organisation.

“I came to Fiji in 2014 to do my foundation studies and then I stayed until 2018 where I finished my Bachelor of Arts degree in Population Studies and Law.

“After completing my studies, I went back and worked in the Ministry in Kiribati and early last year I got to be part of the Smaller Island States (SIS) work attachment whereby currently I’m working at the office of The Pacific Ocean Commissioner and also with the resilience team.

“In future, I plan to further my studies and get a more stable and secured job so that I can help my family.”

She said since childhood, timidity was one of the major challenges faced by her.

“One of the challenges I faced while growing up and in school was the confidence of public speaking because I was always a shy person who didn’t like talking and getting much attention.”

However, she says she has more confidence now and encourages others to never lose hope in themselves.

“Never give up on your dreams and whatever you feel like doing and achieving for your future, your family — and yourself, you should go for it.”

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