Feature

From Dropout To Soon-To-Be Soldier In The British Army

In August 2019, the young man from Nabitu, Tokatoka, Tailevu was accepted as a recruit in the British Army and this led to the change he needed.
15 May 2020 13:56
From Dropout To Soon-To-Be Soldier In The British Army
Jeremaia Tovoka (circled), with fellow Fijian recruits during training in England

Young Jeremaia Tovoka, 19, is weeks away from becoming a soldier in the British Army.

The last three weeks have been tough as the COVID-19 restrictions meant spending most of the time isolated in the training facility in Essex in London.

He said prayers and camaraderie had paved the way for him to endure the tough time, especially when the world was plagued by the killer pandemic.

In 2018, he dropped out of Queen Victoria School.

Mr Tovoka soon realised the gravity of his decision and took steps to remedy that choice.

“I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That’s when I decided to stand back on my two feet and pursue my dream,” he said.

In August 2019, the young man from Nabitu, Tokatoka, Tailevu was accepted as a recruit in the British Army and this led to the change he needed.

“I prayed and trained every day, while all the negative things being said about me flooded my mind,” he said.

“I knew the only way this would end was by pursuing my dream and making my parents proud and it happened.”

Mr Tovoka said joining the army was the best thing that could have happened to him. It taught him discipline.

And once in England, he realised how different things were.

He said adjusting was difficult because he compared the lifestyle and the independence of young people to those in Fiji. However, through prayer and self-discipline, adjusting became possible.

Mr Tovoka said the hard training brought him closer to a group of boys who have become a band of brothers.

Then came the hard part; surviving in a time when an unseen enemy was casting its dark shadows over the world.

“We had eight weeks of training left, but then it moved down to five weeks. We were in isolation during those three weeks, and during the lockdown we had little idea of what was happening out there,” Mr Tovoka said.

“Most of the trainees were being sent home. As for us, we remained at the site and continued with our training, preparing ourselves and finishing off our training ready for the Passing-Out.”

That dream is just weeks away. He believes this is something that will make, not only his parents, but his entire village proud. And he will no longer be remembered as the boy who dropped out. Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: shalveen.chand@fijisun.com.fj



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