People | Sailina’s willing heart

Sailina Likuvono after the mini graduation at the Fiji National University Maritime campus in Nasese, Suva on Friday, June 2, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Every time work seems tough and the weather at sea turns boisterous, Sailina Likuvono remembers her two children.

Their faces give her strength she needs to do her work and push her to persevere in life.

Last week, the 35-year-old single mother was among 18 seafarers who graduated from the Deckhand Fishing Course at the Fiji Maritime Academy at Laucala Bay in Suva, through a scholarship funded by Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

As a child, Sailina first set her eyes on becoming an agricultural officer.

But that career dream changed when she drew motivation from her brother-in-law, who worked as a ship captain in the Solomon Islands.

The mother of two is originally from Colo-i-Suva Village in Naitasiri with maternal links to Tavia in Ovalau, Lomaiviti.

“The longest time I’ve been away from my children was 20 days out at sea,” she said.

“As a mother, that was really hard, but I am doing this for them, so I could financially support them,” Sailina said.

Sailina works in the engineering section on board the Rabi I — a fishing vessel owned by Sea Quest (Fiji) Ltd based at Walu Bay in Suva.

She first worked for the fishing vessel Seaka Pirates when she joined the company about a year ago.

Sailina started working as a woman seafarer back in 2009 but left her job when she gave birth to her eldest child in 2018.

Then she went to pursue a degree in project management at the University of the South Pacific.

In 2022, she joined Sea Quest (Fiji) Ltd.

Her role on board the Rabi I is basically to assist the chief engineer with maintenance in the engine room and she works on a six-hour shift.

She also assists with fishing at night.

“I know working in a male-dominated field could be a challenge for women but I love challenges.”

Sailina said sometimes they were criticised by male colleagues when they appeared weak.

They were often reminded about why they took up the challenge in the first place.

To boost her courage, she looks deep within what she holds of her heart.

“I always try to get my job done and every time it becomes tough out at sea,” Sailina said.

“When work gets challenging or during a bad weather, I will always think of my children and get reminded that I need to rise above the challenges because they are waiting for me to return home.

“I want to encourage women to believe that nothing is impossible if the heart is willing to achieve anything.”

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