Single Mum Defies Odds To Graduate

she used to take her then-one-year-old son with her to university; his presence was motivation for her to complete her degree
27 Jan 2022 14:07
Single Mum Defies Odds To Graduate
Mela Lotu Batidegei with son Inosi Banuve.

Despite all the various challenges and obstacles, single mum, Mela Lotu Batidegei, pushed through to graduate from the University of Fiji. Earning her Bachelor of Science degree – double major in Biology and Chemistry, this 26-year-old was able to achieve her goal thanks to the Tertiary Education and Loan Scheme (TELS).


The Nayaulevu, Tokaimalo, Ra native, who has maternal links to Sorokoba, Ba, recounted that back in 2019, while studying at university, life threw her many hurdles.

But it has been her child, Inosi Banuve (also known as Tuinosi), who has been a source of inspiration for her to strive onwards.

During her four years of studies, she used to take him to school every day adding that his presence motivated her to complete her degree,

“Being a student and a mom to a one-year-old (then) was something you cannot just pick up from a tree. Having to deal with tutorials, lab reports, assignments and exams and nurture a little boy simultaneously was not easy,” Ms Batidegei said.


Overcoming challenges

Traveling as far as Tavua to attend daily class at 8am at the Saweni Campus in Lautoka was a tradition.

At the same time she would sell roti parcels every day at the Uni premises, having to wake up as early as 3am to prepare and depart home at 6am to time class at 8am.

“Crafting was also my hobby where I turned it into a business. I love to design earrings. So it was roti on the weekdays and earrings on the weekends,” she said.

“This was the only way to provide for Tuinosi’s needs and for me to complete my remaining units at the same time as TELS recipient, it will no longer cater for me if I fail, so I gave my best shot.

Ms Batidegei credits her friends for always willing to sell her roti parcels when she was in class.

She was thankful to lecturer, Viliame Savou, who always welcomed her son (two-year-old then) to their class each time.

“Sometimes I could feel that it was too much to handle. But it was this little kid that kept me going,” she added.

She vividly remembered that during her second last semester, while preparing for her final exam, Tuinosi suffered from a Febrile Seizure, and they had to spend a week at the Ba Mission Hospital before being transferred to the Lautoka Hospital (pediatrics ward).

Due to this, she missed her chemistry examination.

“To me Tuinosi’s life was more important than that exam so I just had to accept the fact that my education ends here, but you know, God works mysteriously. He was always faithful even at my worst,” Ms Batidegei said.

When they got discharged, a week later she received an email stating that she could have a special sitting for the exam she missed.

“The joy of excitement ran through my veins that I didn’t know whether to smile or to cry because I knew this was one of his ways of telling me not to give up. That special exam got me through to the next semester and the year after we finally completed all our units and got through with a degree,” she said.



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