Feature

From The Streets To Becoming A Businessman: How Tej Singh’s Struggles Taught Him Lessons For A Better Life

Today as he sits back and reflects on the struggles of his past, Mr Singh says that it is only through God’s grace he is able to become a successful businessman in the northern town.
09 Jul 2020 11:00
From The Streets To Becoming A Businessman: How Tej Singh’s Struggles Taught Him Lessons For A Better Life
Tej Singh and his wife Lalita Radhika in their shop, Classic Gift Emporium, in Labasa on July 8, 2020. Photo: Laisa Lui

Living on the streets for around five months after completing high school had a huge impact on Labasa businessman Tej Singh’s life.

That experience as an 18-year-old, lad, taught him life-long lessons, and that is to strive for excellence in whatever he did.

Mr Singh has slept under tables at the Labasa Market, used the public convenience to have his shower, and even ate the leftover scraps in restaurants.

Today as he sits back and reflects on the struggles of his past, Mr Singh says that it is only through God’s grace he is able to become a successful businessman in the northern town.

Back in time

Growing up in Nubu, Macuata, and being the eldest of five children was quite a responsibility back in the days.

Mr Singh had started school at Lagalaga Primary School, then Nadogo Central College, before moving to Labasa to complete his studies at the Labasa Sangam (SKM) College.

Moving to Labasa, he had to live with relatives while his parents and younger siblings stayed back in Nubu and worked on sugarcane farms to support their education.

“When I finished high school, I had to find work to help my parents,” Mr Singh said.

“But during that time, my relatives didn’t want me and I had nowhere to stay, so I went to the streets to find a living.

“I came to the market and found a spot where I could sleep, under the market stall. (The market was not fenced back then). I would use the public toilet to have my shower and ate food and juice that were leftover on tables in the restaurant.

“That’s how I survived for the next five months,” Mr Singh shared.

Divine intervention

One day, Mr Singh said a Pastor Wise from The Salvation Army Church took him from the market to live with his family.

This was a stepping stone for him as he learned how to fend for himself.

“I learned a lot from him as I watched him every day at the market and I was able to save some money and got a Group 2 licence,” Mr Singh said.

From there, the father of two children was motivated and landed a job at a local hardware store, and continued to a string of stores as he eventually took the liking of business while at the same time driving a taxi.

“My interest in business developed and by November 2013 I opened my first shop that sells gifts and jewellery, with the second shop opening two years later,” he said.

Mr Singh got married in 2002, and his bundles of joy arrived in 2004 and 2005.

The former Labasa Sangam student said that it was quite a challenge having to survive from the streets and build a life, a better life for himself and his family.

He believes that if a person can strongly believe in God and pray, he can do anything because nothing is impossible in this world.

“Being an honest person, earning an honest living is way better and worthwhile,” he said.
Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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