Our Past For Our Future
As parents who are bringing their children up in the military way of life community, one thing that always stands out for my husband and I with the families we meet, is how resilient the children are when it comes to adjusting to the constant moving to new locations within the UK, at times even moving to different countries. Yes you do get the odd child who may take awhile to get into the rhythm of things, but you'll always find that majority of the children more or less take life as it comes and this is something I feel that is downplayed when it comes to talking about one's life skills. Our next Fijian Woman of the World feature, is no stranger to this and is one of the majority who not only has taken the challenges that life has thrown at her on the chin but also excelled in leaps and bounds whilst doing it. Meet Sainimili Kata, our FJWOW for this week.
Sainimili's childhood story is one that is a little different to the majority of Fijian families that are here in the UK under the military community umbrella. Sainimili's mother is no stranger to the military family upbringing, she was born here in the UK along with her 3 brothers. Her father was part of a contingent of Fijians who came to join the British Army in the late 60s/early 70s, he served as a paratrooper with the Royal Engineers. As was the custom with Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers, most returned to their home countries after completing their years of service. Sainimili's story, most may say, began with her parents, but as is the Fijian way of life for most, our grandparents are the ones who play such a vital role with our journey as a whole, as they are the beacon to which we cling to inorder to remember where we have come from and where we are going. Both her paternal and maternal grandparents played very significant roles in this young FJWOW's journey.
Sainimili although born in Fiji,had the opportunity to grow up in the UK when her mother came over to further her studies. Sainimili and her parents moved here in 1995 and it's where she came to first experience life abroad. Adjusting to the climate, the culture and pace of life was something that she had to learn very fast. Her family moved from London to Maidstone in Kent where she spent most of early childhood years in. It was during this time that her family dynamics went through a change that meant having to move countries again. Although adult relationships were no longer amicable, Sainimili describes her childhood as one never short of love or family support as her parents always ensured that she grew up knowing that family support would always be a constant when it came to her. Sainimili moved back to Fiji with her mother for the remainder of her primary school years whilst her father remained here in the UK. She describes those years as one she made lifelong friends from and also the close knit community that she was brought up in never made her feel as someone who was a child of divorced parents.
It was in her teenage years that Sainimili made a move back to the UK to live with her father, and also gave them a chance to rebuild their relationship. Whilst completing her final years in high school, Sainimili had the opportunity to do year abroad in New Zealand, however as she describes it, in hindsight it may not have been in her best interests but it seems the early experience that this young FJWOW had gone through gave her the resilience to soldier on. It was during this year in New Zealand that she more or less stumbled onto what was to become a passion of hers - Anthropology. The study of the norms and values of different societies had piqued her interest. Coming back from her year away, Sainimili took it upon herself to throw herself into her studies by enrolling in a year long intensive college course for her A-Levels. She had the opportunity to study psychology and sociology as part of her A-Levels but found that both of these didn't really feed her passion for what she wanted to study and Anthropology just seemed a perfect fit when it came to deciding her major in university. This passion led to Sainimili graduating with a BSc in Anthropology in 2014 from Brunel university in West London, and also a MA in Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation in 2016.
Sainimili's love for anthropology is fuelled by her passion to understand the reasons why things happen, and also knowing and understanding that to that specific group of people at that time, it is right. Sainimili also went on to describe that in the field of anthropology it is always pertinent to see things from the peoples perspective, that those who are in the field should always be mindful of utilising methods that take social protocols and norms into account and in doing so are not aggressive in their approach. One thing that resonated throughout Sainimili's account of her life story was how Fiji needs more young anthropologists so that the upcoming and future generations are aware of their responsibility to protect and maintain our culture, our values and most importantly that our identity is not forgotten all in the name of so called development.
Although Sainimili comes as a fully fledged qualified anthropologist, she has found that there are not many opportunities to begin a career in her field. This is mainly due to lack of experience in the field, which I feel is a way universities all over the country are failing students today. There is such a push for the academia side of tertiary level education that not a lot of emphasis is being put on students vocational experience to complement it. We now have such an influx of graduates with no relevant experience and as a result unable to find employment, of which the universities conveniently wash their hands of. To try and work around this predicament, Sainimili is currently volunteering her time with the Horniman Museum in South London. By doing so, Sainimili is able to invest her time in an organisation that not only does she support wholeheartedly but also gain the relevant experience needed whilst remaining focused on the bigger picture. Being diligent in her work is a mantra that Sainimili lives by regardless of whether the task at hand is something that others would consider menial and not relevant to the qualifications that she has gained. Sainimili has learnt that by being humble in all the tasks you're given, it allows you to grow both at a personal and professional level so that you are able to empathise for others and strengthen your character as a whole.
Being surrounded by strong women has been one of the motivating factors in Sainimili's life to aspire and achieve all that she can as a young Fijian woman. Her mother's sacrife and work ethics has been a fundamental factor in Sainimili's achievements. Her grandmothers' (both maternal and paternal) never-ending love and support is what also drives her passion to be the best version of herself. Her aunts, (both family and family friends) have also played a crucial role in her life. It is these women whom Sainimili draws strength from collectively and aspires to reflect their teachings and values in her own life.
One advise that Sainimili gave for the young FJWOW aspiring to realise her dreams, be it big or small was, always take the time to care for your soul. Do what you are passionate about. Even if it means having to spend your spare time chasing those passions. In today's world, so much focus is placed on getting a foot on the proverbial career ladder, that not much emphasis is placed on the wholesome care of the individual. Sainimili believes that if we are not careful to care for our own passions, and ensure that the balance with work life and what makes you happy is maintained, then none of what we work towards or work for is worth it. The universe sends us signs, take heed of them and follow them because quite often when something pops up that seems bigger that what you've dreamt, you'll finally come to the realisation that you are right where you're meant to be.
Hope you've enjoyed reading about Sainimili's journey as I have sharing it with you.
Love & Light always,