Not one known to shy away from a challenge perfectly epitomises our next Fijian Woman of The World. When I spoke to her about featuring as our next profile for the FJWOW she dismissed her achievements as one that wasn’t of such a magnitude in terms of how its contributed to the woman that she is today. Meet Seruwaia Bevu, a working mother of three and proud army wife.
Seruwaia’s childhood days in Fiji is reminiscent of one that any Fijian child who grew up in the suburbs of the capital city will tell you. Most of the time out of school hours were spent outside participating in games organised by either other children in the community or if you were lucky enough to come from a big family, by your siblings – nothing like sibling rivalry in sports to strengthen one’s resolve to outsmart each other especially when you’re the youngest. Seruwaia’s father was a police officer, so she is no stranger to the nomadic lifestyle that we have as armed forces families here. Seruwaia recalls how they had the opportunity to move quite frequently as a child, but being the youngest of 5 children, she was never short of company. For someone looking in from outside the ambit of these career choice, the benefits might not seem to be much however those of us who are in it, take solace in the fact that our children are brought up to be able to take to places and make friends easily, as time is never a luxury that we can enjoy.
One aspect that Seruwaia does feel that her own children lose out on though, is the extended family environment that is the norm for most Fijian families back home. She was fortunate though that when she first moved here, a very close family member was at the same posting that they were in and allowed for the close-knit family ties that she missed to be rekindled, especially with the birth of her eldest. However in saying that, here in the UK, our friends become our family and stand in for those that are too far away to see on a daily basis.
Seruwaia’s keen interest in sport found it’s niche in volleyball in her teen and young adult years. The passion for this sport led to her representing the country at international level. Volleyball as a sport in Fiji was not as highly celebrated or funded as the other mainstream sports are. As such the struggles that volleyball players faced in terms of funding to be able to represent the country became more of a driving force to achieve the unthinkable and that is, regional awards.
Moving away from Fiji to join her husband, Seruwaia recounts how the opportunity to continue with volleyball took a backseat. In the grand scheme of things, it was to be expected, as any new army wife will tell you, the mere act of getting one used to the idea of moving camps is no small feat, let alone moving from the Southern hemisphere to the North. Settling into her new life Seruwaia describes how competitive sports slowly seemed to lose its priority standing. It was in Germany that the idea to try out running was posed as an option for a new fitness regime.
She remembers balking at the idea as, as she describes it, running was not her forte. The first full mile that she ran was one that she felt almost broke her, however it was also to become the beginning of a love affair with running. Clocking the miles is an incentive with regards to keeping her fitness regime up to par, in addition to that, the other aspect that contributes to her passion for running is also the charities that she partners with for major marathons. The first being a full (30km) marathon for Breast Cancer Care in Edinburgh, the latest being a half marathon for the Royal British Legion in Bath just a few weeks ago, which as an army spouse is a charity that is very close to Seruwaia’s heart. Later on this year in September, she will be running another half marathon, this time for a charity of her choosing back home in Fiji. It’s safe to say, Seruwaia is a living, breathing slogan for the - This Girl Can campaign.
When asked how does she fit all of this in, inbetween being a full-time working mom of three, also an avid netballer for a team that plays at Premier division and an army spouse (which for those of us who are army spouses know how it comes with all its obligations that makes any other social calendar pale in comparison) – Seruwaia merely responded, me time is overrated. Juggling all that she has, Seruwaia fits in her running with whichever free time she has. At times this means having to run home from work or after finishing with the extracurricular clubs that her children are involved in. What drives Seruwaia is how proud her children are of her achievements, and rightly so. She says the way her children describe her to their friends is reminiscent of how she portrayed her mother as a child. Her mothers work ethics and sheer determination to be the best that she could be in all that she did is what drives Seruwaia to excel in all that she puts her mind to.
When asked if she had any advice for those who might be struggling to get started with their fitness or even for those who might not view running as something that they could achieve, Seruwaia responds that everything we put our mind to is achievable. Nothing is achieved by having a defeatist attitude. Start small but be consistent with it. Start small but have a bigger picture in mind always. Her first mile started her journey with running, now Seruwaia is clocking 20-30 miles easily, and all that is achievable by anyone, regardless of fitness level; shape; size or even age. We are our own biggest barriers or biggest cheerleaders. It’s up to us to choose which one we take with us on our journey.
Hope you’ve enjoyed Seruwaia’s story as I have sharing it with you
Love & Light,