Vaione Earns License to Operate

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November 26, 2020

“My instructor told me if I can operate a digger in Naboro, then I can operate it anywhere around Fiji.”

These words rang hard and true in serving inmate Vaione Tegu’s ears as he tried his best to acquire his license to operate a digger in Naboro.

Today he has become the first serving inmate in FCS to acquire a license to operate a digger, 5-years after he first set his sight on the machine.

The towering 6-foot-3 Kadavu native was incarcerated in 2009 as a 19-year old and served his time behind bars when he could have been playing his trade for an overseas based rugby club and even featuring for the Flying Fijians.

In a twist of fate,  the promising life Vaione had been aiming for took a downward spiral after an unfortunate incident during a drinking party in 2009 which took the life of another saw him sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 12 –years.

“Coming in as a young man, life then was very hard for me, it was a very difficult time,’’ says Tegu.

“I didn’t even think it was possible for me to come through those early dark days, I was a young kid and I did not know how to handle life behind bars.

“But slowly the Officers helped me cope, through programs and through prayer and motivation, me standing here today is God’s will I believe.”

Tegu remembers the first day he saw a digger operating in the farms in Naboro.

“I was transferred from Suva to Nasinu then to Naboro when I started playing rugby – I became one of the lucky inmates in 2012 to be rehabilitated through rugby.

“I was given a job as a Flow Boy – to help the digger operator by always checking valves, oils, the tracks and eventually I picked up the basics of operating a digger.

Tegu says years later he wrote three letters of request for him to be learn how to operate and also to get a license.

“I was rejected 3-times because there were conditions I also had to meet, but by the third time, Commissioner Francis Kean gave me the chance and in July this year I finally passed the tests to have a license.”

Tegu says, learning and acquiring new skills in his mind is something he always aimed to do because we often thought of life after prison. “I always tried to attend every little program offered in Prison, because I wanted to improve myself – being in prison I missed the chance to further any studies.”

“But I thank the Corrections department, and the leadership for giving us the opportunity – I believe I can work outside if am released because I have learnt much.


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