On our most recent set of projects in the South Pacific we provided school uniforms in the island nation of Fiji. In the capital city of Suva we worked with underprivileged children from five schools. These amazing children helped clean and garden for a local nursing home to earn their own uniforms, and they did an incredible job.
There was one student in particular that shone out; he gave a brief speech on behalf of the students and with his broad, warm smile expressed deep gratitude for their new uniforms. He impressed us in many ways, and the more we learnt about him the more we were blown away. We think you will be impressed too.
Luke Naivakadula is one of three children born to his mother and father. Luke’s father left his mother right after he was born, and he was raised, for the most part, by his grandparents. His mother remarried and had a new family but after that didn’t bother with him and siblings anymore. However, his grandparents taught him morals and values.
Luke grew up determined to create something different for himself and to make life better for other people too. He completed primary school in his village and in 2010 moved to Suva to study at secondary school. He tried to move back in with his mother and her new husband, but his stepfather had violent outbursts and would attack anyone who tried to protect Luke—including his mother.
Luke was frightened and unable to run away, but one day during a particularly brutal attack, he got away and ran all the way to the police station. He reported the incident but was too scared to return home. After that, he moved from place to place, always trying to stay in the same school. Sometimes he had to travel up to two hours per day on a bus to get there. Even amidst all of this difficulty and instability, Luke excelled in school. As a result of his exceptional performance, Luke qualified for scholarships to help him through school and for more permanent housing in a hostel.
He became the prefect in form 5, deputy head boy in form 6, and head boy in form 7. He went on to win six awards during his senior year in school: Progressive Prize, Class Prize, Agriculture Subject Award, Head Boy’s Leadership Award, Principal’s Award, and the Dux Award. Luke has just been accepted to the University of the South Pacific, where he will double major in land management and geography. After graduating he wants to work in land management and help his clan deal with land disputes.
Thank you, Luke, for reminding us that education can change lives. It is an honor to work with kind, determined students like you!