Island News

Kuliniasi cherishes life outside prison

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Fourty-year-old Kuliniasi Vasu is counting his blessings upon his return to his family in 1995 after a seven year stint in prison. The father
06 Sep 2008 12:00

image Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Fourty-year-old Kuliniasi Vasu is counting his blessings upon his return to his family in 1995 after a seven year stint in prison.
The father of two now says that spending every minute with his family is worth every thing that he has and would never trade it for anything else in this world.
The stigma of being an ex-offender is something that most of them want to forget as it hurts everyone in their circle of life.
“When I came back home in 1995, it was hard at first because I could see the reluctance in the eyes of family members in trying to accept me back,” he explained.
“I was determined not to let it get to me but tried improving my inner self first and believed that everything would fall into place soon.”
Originally from Nacabau Village in Nakorotubu, Ra, Kuliniasi decided to try his hands on farming after so many attempts of securing jobs in the city area.
“I guess when the employers asked me what I had been doing for the past five years of my life and they heard my reply, their minds were made up there and then,” he said.
Kuliniasi added that this is something that he has had to live with and he has gotten used to the odd stares that he gets every once in awhile.
“I have to admit that this sort of attitude towards me have turned me into a stronger person and have taken it all in my stride of being a stronger person at heart,” he smiled.
So deciding to get on with his life, Kuliniasi moved to his village and did some small scale farming and the money earned from there was enough to motivate him to do more.
After many months of toiling the land in his village, Kuliniasi moved back to his family at their Jittu Estate home in Suva and decided to try his hands on some backyard farming.
“A lot of people think that farming involves hard labor but if you think long term, then the rewards are endless because not only will you have fresh meals for the family, but you can even earn yourselves some cash,” he smiled.
Now the proud father owns small plots of Chinese cabbage, tomatoes, dalo, cassava and leafy vegetables like bele and rourou.
“It’s just been busy for me everyday and I appreciate the smiles that I get from my family when we sit down to a fresh meal of rourou and cassava from our backyard,” he smiled
Planting in his backyard, according to Kuliniasi saves them much needed money for other things which they can enjoy.
“We can save up to $40 a week because we don’t need to buy our vegetables and root-crops from the market.”
“At the moment a heap of cassava can fetch up to $5 and a bundle of dalo can go up to $10-$12 so we are really saving a lot of money,” he said.
So far, Kuliniasi has been getting a lot of interest in his prized vegetables in his backyard and has managed to sell some to passers-by.
“Just the other day, I got a knock on my front door and saw two ladies saying that they wanted to buy cabbage from my backyard, so I had to harvest it for them and it was fresh from the farm,” he smiled.
Kuliniasi has also been busy rearranging his wife’s flowers and have resorted to planting them in pots so there is more space for planting vegetables.
“I think flowers look pretty but they are not edible so I have transplanted all my wife’s flowers into pots and vases so that I am left with more space for planting purposes.”
The dedicated gardener recently purchased watermelon seeds and is thinking of heading back to his village in Ra to plant them as there is abundant land.
“I know of so many young boys back in the village that have been planting watermelon and have been earning themselves a lot of money,” he said.
“So that is my next plan as it is affordable for me and my family to travel to Ra and plant the succulent fruit,” he said.
Kuliniasi believes that if the heart is willing, anything can be achieved in life.
“I guess that for a lot of people, farming is the last option to earn an income to survive, but for me, it is the best way to earn an income, because you are also planting for the family,” he said.
The adroit dad says that he is also teaching his two children the importance of planting for a living.
“I am trying to teach them the various methods of planting vegetables and fruits around the compound so that they will understand at a later stage its importance.”
The sky has been the limit for Kuliniasi and he knows that with more work and sacrifices, he will be able to achieve his dreams for his children’s sake.
“Like any other father, I want what is best for my family, especially my children and that is why I am putting in so much effort into my backyard so that at least, I can earn a few dollars for the welfare of my children.”
“And very importantly, I know that I am providing meals for my family so that is the greatest bonus of all,” he laughed.
Kuliniasi is counting down the days when he will be returning to his village in Ra to start his watermelon farm.
“There are many more produce that I want to plant on a large-scale basis but I am taking each day as it comes,” he smiled.

By Kuini Waqasavou-Ministry of Primary Industries

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