Island News

Fiji experience with a difference

Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. A simple phone call from her eldest son in Australia to take a chance and visit Fiji for a good cause has changed Sue Newham’s
06 Sep 2008 12:00

image Written By : Mela Tuilevuka. A simple phone call from her eldest son in Australia to take a chance and visit Fiji for a good cause has changed Sue Newham’s life forever.
When she agreed to accompany her son Steven who was traveling to Fiji with the King Island Christian Group from Australia, Sue, a single mom did not expect her short stay on our shores to be an eye opening experience.
Her eldest son Steven, works at a Dairy Company in King Island, Australia with Peter Louis, who hails from Somosomo Village in Gau.
Peter and his wife Sonia travel to Fiji every year to donate school stationary and library books to schools in the remote and rural areas.
On the month of May, Peter had asked Steven if he was interested in coming to Fiji to donate stationary that had been collected by the generous people of the King Island community.
“My son agreed to the offer and he decided to call me and ask if I was interested too,” Sue said.
“I had not been to Fiji and I was double minded but something inside just told me to take a chance,” she added.
A mother of four children, Sue was born and bred in Rotorua in New Zealand and currently lives there.
Her eldest child is Steven 31, who works and resides in Australia, next in line are twins Louise and John, 30, and Lee, 22.
Louise is a flight attendant with Virgin Blue airlines while John works in Bangkok, Thailand.
Her youngest Lee, is in the Australian army and is currently in her mother’s thoughts as he is about to leave for war-torn Afghanistan.
With her children all grown up, independent and in different parts of the world , Sue who works at the District Council in Rotorua, normally has her own schedule of just attending work and heading home daily.
During her stay in Fiji, I got a chance to meet Sue two weeks ago when I traveled up with her to Namuamua Village in Serua to donate school stationary at Ro Matanitobua Central Memorial School. Sue, whose father is a Cook Islander, said even though her Maori culture is similar to the Fijian one, she was overwhelmed with her Fiji experience in the various villages and places she had visited.
“I love the Fiji experience and even though this is my first time here, I will definitely be coming back for sure,” Sue said.
Visiting schools around the rural areas, Sue said there were some little things she had picked out that needs to be looked at.
For example, she said in some schools the toilets did not have locks on them.
“It is important that we have locks on every toilet especially if the school is for both boys and girls,” Sue said.
“It will be good to have proper locks on toilet doors because children also need their privacy and it is also a safety measure,” she added.
Surprised with the facilities at Ro Matanitobua Central Memorial School, Sue said it is amazing how a school situated in one the most rural areas of Viti Levu was able to have certain modern technology like a photocopier and a few computers.
Unfortunately, the computers that we saw at the school used to be functioning well but not for too long as the village have their electricity supply through a generator which did more damage to the computers.
Seeing this, Sue was able to pick out the struggle of the people of Nabukebuke to see that their children received a proper and decent education.
“Most schools near the city do not have the sort of facilities that Ro Matanitobua Central Memorial School has and it just goes to show, how people of Namuamua are trying very hard to give their children a good education,” she said.
For Sue, her few weeks here in Fiji was an eye opening experience and one she will never forget.

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