Saturday, March 22, 2008


LIKE most kind people, Saras Kewal, pictured. has a passion for helping out the needy.
The regional president for Soroptimist International, Mrs Kewal was brought up at Lakena Village, Nausori. Not having the privilege to live a luxurious life, they lived a life of struggle.
Her father Ram Khelawan was a farmer and mother, Kalas Pati, a housewife.
Life in the village was quite hard especially when her father was the only breadwinner in the family. She said the financial burden of supporting seven children at school was quite hard for her parents who struggled to make ends meet. Fourth in the family, Mrs Kewal said despite the hardships her family faced, togetherness was what helped them overcome all difficulties.
"I was brought up in the village and my father was a farmer. He did not earn much and because there were seven of us in the family, life was very hard,'' she said.
"I came from a poor family background. We struggled a lot when we were in school but we were always there for each other.
"Whenever my parents went to the farm, I would help my other sisters with the house work and look after our younger brothers. When I was younger, I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to join the medical field simply because I wanted to help people.
"This is something that has always been in my nature ... to help people especially the poor and needy.
"The medical field always inspired me because the feeling of helping some one in need is just overwhelming."
When her family moved to Viria, she attended Viria Public school and in 1974 she attended DAV Girls College.
Unfortunately, financial difficulties forced her to leave school after Form Six.
She then married Ram Kewal, a dentist from Labasa. She said her husband's occupation was very demanding and they were always on the move.
"My husband was a dentist and he travelled a lot. We went to Savusavu and Taveuni.
"In those places, I helped out at the pre-school. I wanted to keep myself occupied especially when the places we went to were mostly remote areas. I volunteered as a pre-school teacher because I wanted to do something with my life and be useful to others.
"It was unfortunate that I was not able to further my education after high school.
"However, I never lost hope and was determined to continue to excel in my life.
"Currently I work at Morris Hedstrom in Walu Bay as a variety buyer for the company.
"Basically, I do variety buying for the company which means I travel to places like New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and China and get products like home appliances, kitchenware and linen."
She has been working for the company for 15 years. She said she enjoyed her job and was thankful to her employer for believing in her.
Apart from her day job, Saras has continuously shown interest in helping the community.
Her role at Soroptimist International has prompted her to continue promoting the development and achievement of professional women.
"I learned about Soroptimist International when I was in Labasa in 1990.
"I joined the organisation because I knew it was about helping people. This was something I always longed to do. I joined without second thoughts and never regretted spending my time with this organisation.
"I always had a soft spot for poor people. Whenever I see them, I always think of my own upbringing and how I struggled just like them.
"This is the reason why I want to help the poor.
"Whenever I help others, I get satisfaction and happiness knowing that I played a part in making someone else happy.
"That is the best feeling in life. Even if I didn't turn out to be a nurse, I am happy with the way my life turned out," she said.
Saras believes in hard work and support of her family which she considers the thriving force behind her success.
The mother of two said it is only through hard work that a person can achieve anything or succeed in life. Her advice for those who have travelled down the same path is to never lose hope.
"If you have a goal in life and you don't reach that goal, that does not mean it is the end of the world. There is always another opportunity some-where. You just have to look harder,'' said Mrs Kewal.