Feature | NATION

Smiling Masilaca Draws Many To Buy Juice

Little do people know is that Ilitai Masilaca cannot speak or hear.
20 Feb 2020 12:09
Smiling Masilaca Draws Many To Buy Juice
Ilitai Masilaca serves juice to a customer at the Suva Market.

At first glance you will notice a smiling face serving a glass of refreshing juice from a big clear glass tank near the Suva bus stand.

Little do people know is that Ilitai Masilaca cannot speak or hear.

However, his positive vibe has drawn many to his stead.

He helps Vika Dunce, who has owned the modest business for two years.

Ms Dunce said she wanted to give Mr Masilaca a chance of independence and to earn some money.

“I was handling my business alone and watching Ilitai roaming around, so I asked him to work for me instead of getting mocked by ruthless people whom he begged money from,” she said.

She said at first it was a challenge to communicate with Mr Masilaca, but his outstanding performance and smile attracted more than 200 customers per day.

“It is a big lesson for me and I feel blessed to give him an opportunity,” Ms Dunce said.

Wise Wailo, one of the regular customers, said Mr Masilaca always smiled, had a positive vibe.

“He just stood hoping he’ll get enough money for the day and customers are always there for that nice, tasty mix of juice,” Mr Wailo said.

Selisity Ali, who was Mr Masilaca’s teacher at the Gospel School for the Deaf, said she was happy to see him working.

“After Year 8, he did not show up for secondary level and now that I know that he is becoming independent, I feel proud as his teacher,” she said.

Respect and appreciation

Fiji Association of the Deaf sign language interpreter, Natalie Raikadroka, said the first time she noticed Mr Masilaca was when her children went to him and communicated with him via sign language.

“I could hear everyone saying to him “dua na bilo kerekere” and then another student budging in from the side saying “sega … “ rua na bilo 50c,” not realising he couldn’t hear them,” she said.

She urged the public to be aware of their surroundings and to show kindness and not to be loud and rude.

“It doesn’t hurt to throw up a sign after you bought from him because when he smiles at my kids, I know he appreciates the sign language,” Ms Raikadroka said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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