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Sacrifice Rewards Family

The 30-year-old told of a stark contrast to life prior to 2019 where subsistence farming and fishing was the way to live on the island. Making money though, to be able to build a life of your own or live independently came second.
28 Sep 2022 14:00
Sacrifice Rewards Family
Cabelala Vakaloloma’s family and The construction of Mr Vakaloloma’s new home.

Cabelala Vakaloloma is a shining symbol of why the Pacific Labour Scheme is a blessing for Fijians.

The Ogea, Lau, islander has gone to New Zealand three times under the scheme thanks to National Employment Centre.

He flew into the country last Friday. Today he returns to the island to reunite with his family in his new home.

Come February, he is expected to fly out again to his employer, Rod Fry Ltd, based in the South Island, a company which falls in the fruit picking industry.

Since 2019, the scheme has elevated Mr Vakaloloma’s standard of living. It allowed the father of two to buy materials for his house along with a chainsaw in his first deployment.

In the second one, he paid the villagers to build his home and in his last deployment, he extended his home and bought a solar freezer.

Running for last minute items to take home to his wife and children and extended family, Mr Vakaloloma, who was in the capital yesterday, said he looked forward to meeting them.

The 30-year-old told of a stark contrast to life prior to 2019 where subsistence farming and fishing was the way to live on the island. Making money though, to be able to build a life of your own or live independently came second.

Mr Vakaloloma used to farm and fish but an introduction to the scheme by the employment centre in 2016 was an eye opener.

Two years later, he was listening to the radio when the then, Minister for Employment, Productivity and Industry Relations, Jone Usamate introduced employment opportunities overseas.

“I called and informed Mr Usamate [at the time] and told him we had undergone training in 2016 and had not been contacted since.”

Finally in 2019, he and a few other Fijians were told that they’d be employed at New Zealand’s Rod Fry Ltd, a company under the fruit picking industry. He has been grateful to the company since.

“The boss then, used to have a big tobacco plantation employing many Fijians,” Mr Vakaloloma said.

“When his son took over, he was told to always remember Fijians and to give them their freedom of religion. We only work from Monday to Saturday there.”

 

Advice

Mr Vakaloloma hopes the employment centre would continue maritime island outreach to give more opportunities to people like him and also cautioned those who were given the opportunity.

“Don’t be swayed by the lifestyle you see overseas.”

“Before you do anything remember the reason you are there and not to give Fiji a bad name making it hard for others to go.”

“It is about being smart and if you let temptation tempt you then it can be the end of your journey.”

Speaking from their home in Ogea, his wife, Bale Tuiwai, said having her husband away for the first time was tough.

“But when he returned we saw the upgrade he did with the money,” she said.

“He went overseas for a purpose and I am grateful that every time he comes back we fulfil the goals we set before he left.”

“Our children are young and every chance we get we always talk to my husband on video call.”

Feedback: wati.talebula@fijisun.com.fj



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