NATION

10 Recognised At Disability Awards Night

Mr Wakaniyasi is currently the Fiji Spinal Injury Association’s executive director, a role he took up in 2012.
29 Mar 2021 10:30
10 Recognised At Disability Awards Night
Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau (with garland), Government Ministers, Members of the diplomatic corps with sponsors and award recipients of the 2021 HomeCare Independent National Disability Awards at the National Gymnasium on March 27, 2021. Photo: Inoke Rabonu

Disability has given me more than I have given it, it has given me meaning, opportunity and employment.

These were the sentiments shared by an elated Joshko Wakaniyasi after he was recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the HomeCare Independent National Disability Awards 2021 on Saturday night at the National Gymnasium.

Ten recipients were recognised for their achievements.

Mr Wakaniyasi is currently the Fiji Spinal Injury Association’s executive director, a role he took up in 2012.

The 49-year-old said the award came as a surprise to him.

“As a person that needs a wheelchair to move around, requires support services to do the work that he does, the award is accredited to all those that make that possible,” an emotional Mr Wakaniyasi said.

“The volunteers, the staff, my family and those who have always encouraged me and never saw my disability as a barrier,” he said.

“They saw my capacity to perform and at the same time supported me in it and invested their time and effort into doing that. The award is accredited to them.

“It is my fourth award in the last ten years but it is my first national award.

“This award will signify to everybody, considering the level of my disability is that if you provide the appropriate space, if you change attitudes, anything is possible.”

Mr Wakaniyasi said his work on advocating for the inclusiveness of people living with disability would continue till his last breath.

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau presents Joshko Wakaniyasi with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the HomeCare Independent National Disability Awards at the National Gymnasium on March 27, 2021. Photo: Parliament of Fiji

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau presents Joshko Wakaniyasi with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the HomeCare Independent National Disability Awards at the National Gymnasium on March 27, 2021.
Photo: Parliament of Fiji

YOUTH OF THE YEAR 

Fiji Higher Education Commission Youth of the year award recipient Nafitalai Ulunikorotabu said he was humbled to have received the award out of all other nominees.

“Being in a wheelchair for the past 15 years has never been easy, there were times I had thought that it was the end of the road for me but through God’s grace alone I am able to do what I do today.”

Mr Ulunikorotabu is the Communications officer for the National Council of Persons with Disability.

ASPIRING JOURNO GETS STUDENT OF THE YEAR AWARD 

Student of the year award recipient Dhruvkaran Nand said being recognised with the award was a proud moment for him.

The final year Journalism and Politics student at the University of the South Pacific said he was grateful to be recognised at a national level.

“Living with very low vision and being able to adapt to the environment at USP was challenging at times and mobility was a challenge but I have been able to journey through with the help of buddies who take care of me in school.”

He was also the recipient of the Exemplary Student Award during the University of the South Pacific Journalism Student Awards last year.

He also launched his memoir, “Unlocking Destiny” last year on the ‘highs and lows’ of his student life, to overcome the stigma and discrimination faced by people with disabilities.

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

Volunteer of the year award recipient Ravin Lal was not able to find an employment because of low vision, he opted to volunteer his services at the Senior Citizens Home.

“I hope to encourage others that live with some sort of disability that anything is possible, never to look down on themselves at any time.”

2021 NATIONAL DISABILITY AWARDS Recipients

  • FIJI HIGHER EDUCATION COMMISSION – YOUTH OF THE YEAR – Nafitalai Ulunikorotabu
  • TFL – ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR – Krishneer Sen
  • IROK RELTORS SME OF THE YEAR AWARD – Sanjeshni’s Tailoring – Psychiatric Survivors Association (PSA).
  • ZAIDEN INVESTMENT PTE LTD, TRADING AS BELZ MERCHANDISE SPORTSPERSON OF THE YEAR – Iakoba Taberanibou – Table Tennis Player
  • FNU – STUDENT OF THE YEAR – Dhruvkaran Nand – Journalism Student/Author – USP Student
  • PORT DENARAU MARINA WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP AWARD – Lanieta Tuimabu
  • HFC BANK SENIOR MANAGER OF THE YEAR – Sovaia Sisi Coalala Disability Coordinator at FNU
  • NATIONAL DISABILITY AWARD ADMINISTRATOR OF THE YEAR Ane Rokula Taukei – Project Officer: Viti Spinal Injuries Association
  • NATIONAL DISABILITY AWARDS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – Ravin Lal
  • THE BETTY ALBERT AWARD SUPPORT BY HOMECARE INDEPENDNT – LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD – presented to: Joshko Wakaniyasi

Edited by Selita Rabuku 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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