Picture: Paulione infront of his carrier.
Being brought up in a rural community, hours away from the nearest town, and physically challenged, was all the motivation Paulione Taukei, 55, needed to change his circumstances and become a successful farmer.
The widowed farmer from Namoli Village, Noikoro, Navosa did not allow his physical disability to stop him from achieving his goal, which was to buy a carrier to help his fellow villages in transporting their produce to Sigatoka Market.
Speaking in the Navosa dialect, Paulione explained he was born with a dislocated joint.
He said his unique situation challenged him to carry out tasks that other able-bodied people did, such as fetching firewood, ploughing the land, and even falling in love.
There were also trying times, when he would be teased mercilessly and that would sometimes bring him to tears, other times, he would retaliate. But as he grew up, he finally learnt to accept himself as made by his Creator, in the image of God.
Namoli Village is located in rough terrain of the Navosa highlands and a five-hour drive up from Sigatoka Town.
He grew up in a family that struggled to survive and the only option for livelihood was farming.
Receiving an education, he knew very early on, was not for him.
Paulione reminisces the days of his youth, the excitement of growing up in the village away from the fast-paced changes in technology and western modernization.
He said in the village, the network connectivity was weak therefore it was difficult to reach anyone by mobile phone. To fill in the time, he recalled, they spontaneously would come up with fun activities like, hunting wild boars or visiting other villages. He and his mates would find something to eat out in the bush, which added to their experience, and that in turn slowly molded them into capable young men.
Paulione did not see himself as working in an office or for a company. He realized that the challenges he faced could be overcome if he focused on farming and setting goals to achieve.
He said it was extremely important that one set targets to accomplish during harvests, which was what he did.
His yaqona farm has helped him achieve the goals for his family and community such as purchasing a carrier valued at $87,000.
The carrier was to assist in providing transport for his fellow villagers, as there was no bus service that far up in the highlands and given they were all farmers, it was vital they reach Sigatoka Market to sell their produce.
Traveling to Sigatoka Market, meant leaving very early in the mornings and returning late in the evenings, due to the vast distance to be covered.
Paulione said it always pained him to observe the elderly men and women struggle to find a way to take their produce to the market. They would wait for other vehicles coming from villages after them that would also be traveling to the same destination.
It was from watching this constantly that gave him the idea to purchase a carrier, thanks to his yaqona farm.
With the vision to help his people combat the hardships they face in the interior of Navosa, he continues to set achievable and realistic goals.
His next goal is to obtain a public service vehicle license for taxi or mini-bus to carry out regular runs for patients at the newly-opened Navosa Hospital.
He said given the need for regular transport in the area, that was his next target.
Assistance is slow in reaching them in the highlands, so Paulione takes the initiative and works to achieve the solution.
He said his farm allowed him to achieve what some may have thought impossible, and that again drove him to work even harder on his farm.
He said he may have a dislocated hip but he could still achieve his dream and if he could, there was no excuse for able-bodied persons not to.
Paulione’s dream as a child was to pay for everything he wanted, and while receiving a education did not happen for him, farming yaqona certainly made that possible.
He named his carrier ‘Mount Koroiwaya’, a tribute to his maternal links, and a site to behold for visitors to the land.