Island News

Kelera gets a second chance

Written By : Lusia Vuruna . To be given a second chance at a brighter future makes every moment in life more worthwhile. This was the sentiments of 18-year-old girl
09 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : Lusia Vuruna .
To be given a second chance at a brighter future makes every moment in life more worthwhile.
This was the sentiments of 18-year-old girl Kelera Dikala as she proudly showed off her classmate’s handiwork at the Technical Vocational Education Training Expo at the Civic Center in Suva on Thursday earlier this week.
Kelera, who hails from Koroivonu in Tunuloa, Cakaudrove, is the third youngest of 12 children and lives with her older sister at Raiwasa. Her parents Semi Qio and Losavati Buna live in their village and farm for a living.
Kelera is a first year catering student at TVET in Nabua Secondary School in Suva and for her, the chance offered by the vocational programme has offered her a new lease on life and an opportunity which seemed lost after Fiji Junior Certificate examinations last year.
With her uncle’s encouragement and financial assistance, Kelera came back to school and enrolled into the vocational course. She never looked back and has never regretted a single moment of it.
“After form four, I thought I would never get another chance again to get a better life. I thought that was it for me but when I decided to enroll in this programme, I found that I can get a job and a better future.”
Kelera studies English, Mathematics and Basic Accounting apart from sewing, cooking and other basic catering skills.
She said she had to first overcome a personal battle of looking past the stigma attached to being a vocational student.
“When people think of a vocational student, they think of us as those who could not make it in the high school system. But after I joined, I found out that what was offered here for me, was something that I could not find throughout secondary school.”
Kelera said since she joined the vocational programme, she began to enjoy learning in a school environment.
“For me, I finally began to enjoy studying when I started at with vocational this year. We learn how to cook and sew and its really fun coz all the girls enjoy the class and the teachers are really good to us.”
She said she hoped to better her skills, especially in sewing and designing, where she hoped to make a future for herself.
Pointing to the wedding gown made of ‘masi’ which she and her classmates created, she said it was a beginning for her and she hoped to hone her skills as she continued her studies.
“That was a beginning for me and for all the other girls. We put our efforts together for that gown and we were so proud of what came out of it.
“We have never really done any serious designing but we worked together and we hope that we get better as go along. Now my sister has to tell me to get of the sewing machine.
“She knows that before I used to hate doing housework like cooking or helping my mother. My mother is a very good taylor.”
Kelera said she will be working in Natadola for the third school term this year as her practical.
With a smile on her face, Kelera also said she had forged close relationships with her classmates and she never regretted joining vocational.
“I have never regretted enrolling in this programme. It has given me a second chance I never thought I would get. Everyday I’m thankful.”
Kelera’s teacher Ms Bale Tatatau said she was proud of her 29 girls and believed that they have bright futures ahead of them.
“I’m watching the girls here and I’m so proud of them. They really enjoy their work and show a lot of promise.” Ms Bale said people normally associated vocational programmes with school dropouts but this was not true.
“When people hear about vocational education, they normally think of school dropouts. But what I have learned is that not all students would be good in academic work but all have qualities that have yet to be discovered.”
She said even teachers knew that their students were treated differently by other students in the school.
“Even we know how they feel because other school students treat them differently. There is a certain stigma attached to being a vocational student but we encourage our students to look past it and concentrate on what’s ahead of them.”
She said not all students would become lawyers and doctors, or get office jobs but they all possessed talents that had to be discovered, and enhanced to ensure that they have a chance at a better life.
Ms Bale also said she often felt like a parent because most of her students came from broken family backgrounds.
“Most of these students come from broken families and they face huge challenges everyday just trying to come to school. I see how hard they try and their determination because they want something more out of life.
“So I try my best to be there for them. Some even come to school in the morning without their bus fare to return and I try my best to assist them in any way I could.”

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