Saturday, January 5, 2008


AKANISI Uta is living testimony of perseverance in the face of adversity. When fate dealt her a body blow, she refused to roll over and give up.
It might have been the greatest struggle of life but she gladly sacrificed to raise her family and earn enough to feed and clothe them.
Shortly after her separation from her husband in 1989, she and her children had to live in a church hall because they had nowhere to go. But her steely resolve helped her overcome that and eventually she was able to get a HART home and re-build her family life.
Today, she uses her talent and skills to feed her family.
Having a child working has helped greatly in paying the bills.
Uta, as she is affectionately known, hails from Tovu, on Totoya in Lau.
She was educated at Totoya District Primary School and came to Suva to further her education at Sila Central High School.
She completed fifth form before starting work with Morris Hedstrom.
She put in the decade of dedication with the country's largest retail chain before resigning to give birth to her third child and take care of the other children.
To help pay the bills, she made mats, salusalu and other handicraft and sold them to market vendors.
In 1989, Uta separated from her husband and was legally divorced in 1991.
"I went with the children and lived with relatives but things did not work out," she said.
"We then moved out from the relative's house and had to stay in a church hall."
Lucky for her and her children, a relative, who happened to be the wife of the then HART director, told her husband about Uta's situation.
Uta was advised to apply for housing.
She qualified and in 1991 was given a Housing Assistance Relief Trust home in Nasole, Nasinu.
Now, aged 55, she lives with her children Raijeli, 25, is a student at the Fiji Institute of Technology; Toga, 24, is working and Luisa, 23, is a student at the University of the South Pacific.
"Being left alone with my children was a great challenge, especially when you're a single mother trying to fulfill both the parental roles," Uta said.
"We are really fortunate that Toga is working and Luisa is a FAB-sponsored student, which has lightened the load a bit."
Social Welfare gives the family $60 a month to supplement the income she gets from selling her salusalu, mats, doormats and other handicraft.
Uta plants vegetables in front of their home for their own use.
She pays $5 a week rent and $2.92 a week for rubbish to be cleared and water.

Adapated from Fijitimes Online