Sunday, May 4, 2008


THERE is no other way to reach the top than through hard work. That is one of the most important lessons Avikali Bete has learned.
Being a senior supervisor at Eagle Cleaning Services Limited in Suva, is a position Avikali never thought she would attain.
In fact, she never thought a cleaning lady's lot would mean much of a life.
Born and bred in the old capital, Avikali was adopted by an Indian father and part-Solomon Islands mother. Her adopted parents were David and Siteri Bechu and she grew up on a farm at Nukutocia Village on Ovalau.
"I was adopted when I was four days old but I did not know until I was 18.
"I did not really think about it until I was in primary school when I started to question why I was different because my father was Indian and my mother part-Solomon," Avikali said.
Her brothers and sister were much older than her when she started school. Out of school, there was farm work.
"I used to fetch water from the well before school. There were times when I was responsible for taking the cows out for grazing or milking. It was a hard life."
Her father was a bus driver and only breadwinner while her mother was a housewife but while times were tough, food was never a problem.
Avikali said her parents worked hard to provide them with an education. She attended Marist Convent Primary School in Levuka with lawyer Imrana Jalal.
"During our time in primary school, we had to be neat and much disciplined. I used to go to school with flip flops.
"Sometimes I had one exercise book for three subjects. I wanted to be a lawyer because I found their work very interesting and challenging.
"I was called Ivy Bechu in primary school. I continued my education at St John's College in Cawaci. At that time there was no Form Six so we had to sit Form Five twice.
"There was upper and lower Fifth, unfortunately, I was not able to complete my studies because my parents could not afford my fees. I really wanted to continue with my education but it was very unfortunate."
She said it was on her 18th birthday party that she was introduced to her biological parents who she called aunty and uncle. Avikali then came to Suva to live with her sister before getting married.
Unfortunately, she divorced and with three children to support, Avikali knew she had to do something to support them.
Her first job was as a cashier at the Lilac Theatre before moving to the Phoenix. She then worked at Desai Bookshop and as a stock officer at Tiko's Floating Restaurant.
"It was all new for me and I took every opportunity I got because I had three children to support. It was a big challenge being a single mother but I knew I could do it.
"I then worked at the Golden Dragon for eight years as a cleaner and cashier. Then I left for a job at the Central Queensland University as a cleaner for 32 toilets. It was hard. I didn't think I would last but I ended up cleaning there for about nine years.
"It was a hard life but I was used to it because I was brought up on a farm.
"I was never embarrassed of what I was doing because at the end of the day I was helping my children with their education.
"From there, I was reassigned to clean at the University of the South Pacific. This time, I was cleaning offices and labs at USP.
"After that, I spent eight months working as a waitress at Downtown Boulevard. For me, being a waitress was a step up from a cleaner and I was very happy."
Not long after, she was promoted to senior supervisor of the cleaning company on Rewa Street. Avikali said her job involves making sure the cleaners have the right cleaning chemicals and are efficient and hard working. She said despite the troubles in her life, she never quits. She said she was proud of where she reached today because she knows her hard work has been recognised.
"My advice to people is that no matter what job you do, if you work hard, you will reap the benefits. I started as a cleaner for a long time and never complained about my job even though I used to earn $32 a week.
"I was always grateful for what I had and what I was given. It is something people should remember.
"In the cleaning industry, working wholeheartedly, being trustworthy and punctual are the keys to success," she said.
Adapted from Fijitimes Online