Painting a new coat of change

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PAULIASI Delaibatiki was a mixture of emotions when he was told he had contributed $15,000 to the Adopt a School initiative through the sale of his painting.

The revelation was made by Fiji’s Ambassador to China, Major-General Ioane Naivalurua, who visited the Tagimoucia Art Gallery at the Suva Corrections Centre yesterday.

Major-General Naivalurua further revealed this was the largest donation an individual had contributed to the initiative.
Delaibatiki’s face lit up with excitement and soon after tears sprang to his eyes which reflected a hint of sadness as the news was relayed to him.

“The painting came to me at the right time,” he later smiled.

“I was one of those selected to help in the clean up of schools, towns and villages after Cyclone Winston. Seeing the widespread destruction and people homeless and without food really struck deep. I realised we, as inmates, were blessed because we had a place to stay and we had food supplied to us every day.”

Delaibatiki said Major-General Naivalurua had sent him a picture from which the painting was adapted.

“Mr Naivalurua sent the picture from China and at that time, I was helping in rehabilitation work after the cyclone. It took me three weeks to complete the painting,” he said.
12 years since he began serving a life sentence, Delaibatiki says painting has eased his transition through the years.

“The first six years of my term, I couldn’t accept. It was tough. When I took up painting in 2010, it gave me the release I needed. It is an escape for me. My mind and heart connect and my hands imitate what I feel deep inside, that’s what painting has done for me.”

The Namuka-i-Lau native says he found further inspiration in the success of his aunt who played a huge role in the rebranding of the Fiji Airways logo.

He said he was overwhelmed to know he was capable of creating good change despite the circumstances of serving a jail sentence.

“I want people out there to know that nobody is bad. There are good people here.”

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