TELS Produce A Truly Deserved Success Story

If it was not for the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) I would not have completed my studies. These were the words of 25-year- old Ifereimi Voivoi Baledrokadroka, who graduated
22 Dec 2018 10:17
TELS Produce A Truly Deserved Success Story
Iferemi Voivoi Baledrokadroka

If it was not for the Tertiary Education Loans Scheme (TELS) I would not have completed my studies.

These were the words of 25-year- old Ifereimi Voivoi Baledrokadroka, who graduated from the Fiji National University with a Bachelor in Dental Surgery.

“Without TELS I would not have been able to complete my studies. I am so thankful for getting the opportunity to be allowed to make my dreams come true,” Mr Baledrokadroka said.

“Even if my parents tried to collect money for my fees it wouldn’t have been enough.”

Mr Baledrokadroka hails from Matainoco Village in Buretu, Tailevu, and has maternal links to Veivatuloa Village in Namosi.

He is the second youngest of five siblings.

The odds were not always stacked in his favour since growing up and struggle best describes his upbringing.

“Born and raised in the village, life was tough. I was raised in a thatched house (Fijian Bure) which after many years became a ‘Lean To house’ built from loose iron collected by my dad,” Mr Baledrokadroka said.

“Dad was a labourer at a construction site and doubled up as a cane cutter.

“Mum normally collects seafood from the coast and sells them at Suva market every Saturday. On a good day she can earn $60 and on a bad day $20. Some Saturdays after my classes I joined her.

“I always tell my mum that one day she will not be sitting at the market selling.”

During primary school days at Veivatuloa Village School in Namosi, he had to share uniforms with his two older brothers.

“Torn shirt, dirty Sulu, walking bare feet, using plastic bag as a school bag, no pocket money, no decent lunch but just plain tea and cassava. However, all was worth it.

“Pursuing my dream in a prominent city school was more challenging than the village struggles.”

He attended Suva Grammar School from Year 9 to Year 13 and repeated Year 13 at Lautoka Central School.

“Throughout high school. I stayed at the notorious Nadonu- mai neighbourhood in Delainavesi where I have to keep the focus in chasing my dream.

“I only had one pair of uniform and sandal that would last me until Year 11. Since my parents were both in the village I didn’t want to pester them all the time about my bus fare.

“I came up with the idea to sell bonbon lollies in school and it worked. The little money I got was used on bus fare, lunch money and even school fees,” Mr Baledrokadroka said.

In his struggles he found the spirit to endure.

“First attempt at Form Seven was satisfactory.I did pass but the effort wasn’t enough to secure a place at Medical School.

“I repeated in Lautoka because my aim was to earn the title of Doctor (Dr). My second attempt was successful and the dream started to manifest.

“The five-year programme for my Bachelor of Dental Surgery became a six-year journey because I failed in Year Two.

“Throughout these many challenges one bible verse always dear to me was Job 19:25: I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand on the earth.

“Having earned a Degree in Dental Surgery my dream of having that `Dr’ beside my name is accomplished.

“I have learned in life that in your moments of victory always remain humble.”

His timely advice for children is: “If you are looking for blessings it is inside your homes, so honour your parents at all times.

“Life is full of challenges, but always trust God for he knows the plan he has for each of us.”

As he begins to reap the harvest of his work Mr Baledrokadroka plans to build a house for his parents at their village.

Edited by Percy Kean


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