DIVA Poverty to Power Network, Central division
Article by Frances Tawake
“When I acquired a disability 35 years ago, my dreams were shattered, my life changed forever”
Growing up in a village setting where it is normal for everyone to sleep on the floor at night because there are not enough rooms to cater for all the children, I would carefully tuck my pillows against the wall where I stationed myself. I was only 5 years old with a dream of becoming a nurse when I grew up. I was born in between 3 of my brothers from a single mother.
I vividly remember the day my uncle returned from drinking grog late at night grog-doped. Our kerosene lights were switched off because we ran out of kerosene. I could hear his giant footsteps approaching me and all of a sudden I felt something slam down on my leg, right on the ankle joint. I was in agonising pain as I heard my joint rip as the bone snapped in two. Heat flared up my body as I felt like someone was raking knives down my leg. I wailed with a loud cry filling the darkness of the room as I shrunk at the corner. Hospital was one hour away from home and we did not have enough money to access the hospital so I was left without an option but to bear the brunt all throughout my life.
Carrying my fractured leg around was a burden; I was bullied in school which affected my physical, social, emotional and academically well-being. At times I was depressed and anxious with so many feelings of sadness and loneliness and the impacts made me drop out of school early.
I met my husband who loved me for who I was when I was 21 years old. I then had two children and again poverty was nothing new to us. I slowly joined the women’s groups in my community in 2015 and that’s when I started to work with other women living with disabilities. My activism work grew as I joined other women and feminist organizations including DIVA for Equality. It was only then that I began to feel confidence in myself as a mother and a woman living with disabilities.
My husband passed away last year leaving me with two teenage boys to take care of. I must admit that raising two boys is not easy as they try to explore the real world. As I reflect on my journey I wonder what life would be like for me if I was brought up in a safe and caring environment. I would be at the heart of our healthcare serving and helping people. Also, if the hospital had been accessible during that time my bone fragments would have been healed and my life would have been so different.
Now as I strive forward as a widow, single mother and woman living with disability I work for a community where there is peace and love for all human beings where no one will be left behind.”
Naomi has been part of DIVA for Equality Poverty to Power programmes since 2019 and according to her she has been a part of many organisations but none of them have visited her personally at her home at Vuci road as did DIVA. Through her engagement she has gained more knowledge and information that has empowered her through the work that she does with the people living with disabilities, in Tailevu south.