Work at the park

Hari Singh relaxes at Shirley Park after a hard day’s work. Picture: BALJEET SINGH

AS the sun rises on yet another beautiful day in Lautoka, Shirley Park is clean and ready to host the people of the Sugar City for another new day.

Hari Singh has worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to ensure this iconic landmark which sits peacefully in the heart of the city and its amenities are kept clean every day to welcome people who are always eager to spend their leisure time and lunch out on its greens.

Frequent visitors to the park would never miss out on the daily friendly welcome from this gentleman dressed in a blue, long-sleeved shirt tucked neatly into khaki pants.

For the past two decades, Shirley Park has been Mr Singh’s second home as he is the cleaner and is also responsible for the beautification of the park.

Originally of Field 40, Lautoka, Mr Singh had for most years plied his trade at the Lautoka Municipal Market also as a cleaner until he switched places to go to Shirley Park.

It was Shirley Park that allowed him to rediscover a sense of pride for the work he loved and meet different kinds of people daily.

Before this, he was a cleaner at the Lautoka market for 15 years and it mainly revolved around the market place and ensuring it was ready for vendors every day.

By 6.30am, when most of us are still curled up in our blankets in the comfort of our own homes, Mr Singh has already started his cleaning at the Shirley Park public convenience before moving on to the greens.

He always makes sure his work is complete at 8am just in time for people to start arriving in town.

After cleaning, he would make a few rounds around the park just to ensure it looks clean and friendly and is ready to host people who use the park to relax during the day.

His job is not just about cleaning but also about meeting different people daily.

Because socialising was always part of his life, he did not have a problem with chatting with almost every passer-by because it made his work sweet to meet and greet new faces every day.

He has another cleaning session during the day before rounding off at 5pm.

He enjoys what he does and when he reaches home, has a few bowls of grog before he calls it a night.

The work he does has landed him compliments from different people he meets at the park daily and it makes his work a lot sweeter being acknowledged by people.

At 65, he is not even thinking of leaving his job soon because he has fallen in love with a place that has always allowed him to share a few laughs and stories with people who believe living life is a matter of loving and respecting people.

But he is also concerned that some Fijians seem to have adopted a culture of excessive grog and alcohol consumption which may have led to many young deaths today.

“If you drink grog or alcohol, consume it wisely and do not abuse it because if you respect your body, it will respect you,” Mr Singh said.

“Eat on time, sleep on time, be thankful that God gives you work to do on this Earth.

“Love and treat everyone with respect and always work hard so you can support yourself and your family.”

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