Lanieta Tuimabu what started off as a bad headache culminated in loss of vision after contacting meningitis? That was way back in 1985 when I was just 12 years old. For a period of seven years, I was in and out of hospital with dreams, hopes and anticipation that my vision would be restored soon and to the fullest extent.
When I became blind, my parents were quite shocked and it took them a long time to come to terms with my situation. But that did not deter them from pursuing a cure for me. After searching and searching for help here and there, they found Fijian herbs for me to drink which helped in restoring my vision slightly, but it was better than nothing.As for me it took me five years to except my blindness after receiving a lot of empowering from my other friends who are blind or visual impaired.
Finally, my parents understood my situation and they were advised by my medical doctor to enter me into the Fiji School for the Blind to continue my education.
This was a decision that they were never to regret and led to my attending classes four and five at the Fiji School for the Blind; classes six, seven and eight as an integrated student at Marceline Primary School; and forms three to six at girls boarding school with non disable girls at Ballantine Memorial School.
For me, continuing my education was not a bed of roses as I encountered numerous challenges. One of the major challenges was that the Principal of Galantine Memorial School at the time found it hard to accept me, include me and let me participate fully in the school community.
But thanks to the motherly love, inclusive and understanding of the then Vice Principal, and also the encouraging support of my Special Teacher School mentor, I was accepted as a Form Three student of Ballantine Memorial School. I will never forget the inspiring words of the Vice Principle who challenged me to work hard to achieve whatever I wanted and to prove everyone wrong.
I rose to the challenge. I have proven that those who looked down on me and excluded me completely underestimated my abilities and my determination. I studied at USP completing units in language, literature and communications skills.
Since 1993, I have worked for the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation [private sector] as their Customer Services and Membership Coordinator, also worked for Westpac Banking corporation as there Customer Service Officer, and currently working for the Fiji Disable Peoples Federation as there Office Manager. [finance sector] Computer technology has been a great help in my job. I received advanced training in software called Job Access with Speech [JAWS] regionally, Ihe also attended information communications technology (ICT) for blind and vision impaired persons in Penang Malaysia .
I am proud that I rose to Mrs Sotutu’s challenge and have proven my abilities in so many ways over so many years. By my example, I challenges others to achieve as well with limited resources and poor family background to support my education from Primary, Secondary and Tertiary and never loos hope.