Fiji Times - 17 November 2011
Asenaca Dikoila has learnt to triumph through the ups and downs of life by smiling her way through and not looking back.
The 63-year-old grandmother lives with her eldest child at Lekutulevu Village, outside Labasa.
When we met, Asenaca was waiting for a vehicle with a bag and a newly woven mat which she intended to sell at the Labasa market.
Originally from Lakeba village in Saqani in the Province of Cakaudrove, Asenaca's good sense of humour shone through with her jovial personality and smiling face as we talked.
Asenaca moved to Lekutulevu Village in Cakaudrove with her children in 2004 following the death of her husband. She now considers the village her home and the place where she will spend the remainder of her days in her old age.
Weaving mats and fishing are her source of livelihood, and the money she earns from sales is used to buy her necessities and toys and snacks for her grandchildren. Asenaca now spends most her time looking after her grandchildren when she's not fishing or weaving.
"Weaving mats and baskets was something I learnt from my mother. We considered it important because it helped keep the Fijian traditions and culture alive," she explained.
"Being able to weave and have such skills was also a bonus because we earned good money from selling the mats.
"It's an inexpensive craft because we can get the weaving material - voivoi - from the village and the craft requires a lot of time and patience which the women in our villages have a lot of," Asenaca said.
Apart from weaving, she also enjoys a swim in the river and goes out fishing. And when she's not at home or at the Labasa market, Asenaca prefers to spend time with her grandchildren, who she visits every fortnight. The grandmother is always emphasising to her children the importance of spending quality time with their own children from an early age.
This, she reckons allows parents to instill easily good morals and values within the child, which the child readily accepts.
"I have taken the responsibility of nurturing my grandchildren because their parents are at work most of the time," she said.
"I enjoy my time with them - spending time with the little ones helping them eat, dress and sharing stories of Fijian myths, and our traditions and culture."
Asenaca says valuable time with her grandchildren was a reward in itself.
"My grandchildren keep me occupied," she said.
"And I don't mind fending for them because if we, the elders, aren't there to assist them while they are growing up, the children can go astray.
"Gone are the days of taking care of our children. Now we can help take care of our grandchildren.
"It's all part of life; the stages of life we have to go through, and we must enjoy it while carrying out our responsibilities," she smiled.