Will to survive and push on

Frank Duncan during an interview with The Fiji Times at his home on Taveuni. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

THE strongest substance on Earth is not diamond. It is a man’s will to survive, some say.

That rings true for Somosomo villager — Frank Duncan Alpha N Omega Yeshua Yavalanavanua Lewenilovo.

The 62-year-old has survived bowel cancer and two broken marriages.

At the age of 37, he learned that the man who brought him up was not his biological father.

Being confined to a wheel chair has not stopped him from fighting for disability issues.

With the help of a walker and with a slight speech defect, he travels around Taveuni by bus advocating for the rights of people living with disabilities.

He is the secretary of the Fiji Disabled People’s Association Taveuni branch and volunteers his time mobilising members to attend monthly meetings and discuss issues that affect them.

“I travel from Vuna to Lavena by bus visiting my members and doing my work as a voice of the minority. Being on a wheelchair is not going to get me down. God is good,” he said.

Over the past few years, he has been trying to secure funding to set up an office in Naqara to serve FDPA members on the island.

He uses the meagre $80 a month he gets through social welfare assistance to support him and carry out his duties as branch executive of FDPA.

“I am a servant of others. My members are mostly unemployed, dependant and don’t have any form of transport. I’m trying very hard to get two vehicles to serve members in the North and South. They need to be picked up to attend our meetings held on the first Saturday of every month,” Duncan said.

In 1975, Duncan, a marine engineer by profession, joined the same batch of navy recruits as Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

He described the young PM Bainimarama as a “hard worker”.

After being in the navy for four years he worked on overseas ships most of his adult life until his retirement.

“I retired in 2006 because I slowly lost the ability to walk and lost the ability to do the things I used to do.”

He said his second wife filed for divorce in 2009 because he couldn’t support his family anymore.

Duncan lives alone, cooks his own food, washes his own clothes and bathes himself.

He wants to continue his advocacy work on disability rights and issues.

*Check out Duncan’s tales in next weekend’s Sunday Times

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