Brave Heart



TEARS flowed freely as the mother of 12-year-old, Katarina Bubu, watched her daughter receive the Fiji Children’s Award for being an exceptionally brave young Fijian hero.

Witnessing the moving ceremony at Nailuva District School in Rakiraki recently, Esita Lawaivalu could not hold back her tears as the event took her more than three years back to the day that led to her daughter’s act of bravery.

Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Rosy Akbar led a standing ovation for Katarina as she was recognised for her selflessness and act of bravery.

In the midst of the catastrophe caused by Tropical Cyclone Winston, Katarina, who was nine years old at the time, despite being severely injured showed immense strength and courage to seek help to rescue her injured family members which included her sister who died because of her injuries.

She suffered severe head injuries and joint misalignment in the face of the disaster and yet braved the heavy rain and strong winds to crawl a 45-metre cliff to her village to inform of the whereabouts of her mother and sister.

Speaking on behalf of her daughter, Ms Lawaivalu thanked Government and organiser Vision Fiji for recognising Katarina as a courageous and honest person.

“I am very happy and proud for the celebration held for my daughter today; and my family and I thank Government for the much needed assistance.”

Ms Lawaivalu recently received an all-terrain wheelchair from the Ministry of Health and Medical Services upon her request as she found it difficult to walk unaided and had to crawl to get around.

She had sustained serious injuries including severe knee fracture and a broken jaw and collarbone.

“We are here to celebrate how strong the survivors like Katarina are who did not care about their own life and went ahead to assist the people in need,” Minister Akbar said.

“I hope you will continue with the true spirit of how people live in villages and settlements where you feel for each other and your neighbor is like a family and where children are loved and cared for,” she added.

“We are rewarding one child, but I believe there are many children out there who show bravery, courage and honesty in their own way, in their daily lives that also deserve recognition.”

“I must commend the parents and villagers for having such children in your village as they must be emulating someone’s behaviour as it is you who have trained this girl who she is today so please continue to guide and support her.”

Vision Fiji chair, Gazala Akbar said the organization looks for stories of unsung heroes among children whose extraordinary service to their families or communities would otherwise go unrecognised.