A learning stint – From a teacher to station chef, to farmer

From teacher to station chef, to farmer, Sakeo Tuilau’s career path was one life twisting and changing experience, but he has finally landed on what he says is his goldmine.

Tuilau, 35, hails from Tubalevu, Namara in Tailevu and was brought up in Vatukoula because his father worked at Vatukoula Gold Mines.

“I went to Vatukoula Government School before attending Ratu Kadavulevu School from Form 1 to From 5. I completed high school at Lelean Memorial School.

“I went on to do a training course and achieved my diploma in fitness and training before joining Nadi Muslim College as a physical education teacher. The job was fun but it wasn’t until he met some friends working at hotels around Nadi who informed him about the potentials in their industry.

“I became really interested and opted to give it a try.

“So I did short courses at the Pacific Training Institute and also T.P.A.F and I achieved a certificate in Pastry and Cookery.”

Tuilau made his way in the hotel industry and by sheer hard work he managed to score a good post at a five-star resort — a dream come true.

“I became a station chef at one of Denarau’s finest,” he said.

“The post was rewarding but one day I made a wrong decision, a decision which caused me my reputation and my job. I got too drunk and fell asleep at the Denarau bus bay. It was the police that found me.

“I returned to my parents in Vatukoula after walking away from the job I worked so hard for.

“While at Vatukoula I tried to find work but it wasn’t so easy so I decided to go to my mother’s village in Navatuyaba, Toga in Rewa to farm. “I informed my dad who gave me his blessings.

“I came to Navatuyaba and built a makeshift home and started from there.

“I was without electricity and water so I struggled every day, but this time with a new ambition to make something out of the land given to me to plant. I asked for cassava stems, dalo toppings from other farmers who helped me to plant.

“Some people laughed at me, even my relatives because I was a teacher, a chef and left two good jobs to toil the land in a tin shack with no water and electricity.

“It took some time and hard work but it did pay off, so much so that I managed to build a proper home for my wife and two children and bought a car.

“When COVID-19 struck, I still had orders coming from all places to buy from me.

“All I had to do was deliver dalo toppings and cassava stems for people wanting to plant and had already placed their orders.

“If I can do it, I think you can do it too, that’s my advice to others. You only need to work hard and be positive in everything you do.

“Now I’m sitting on a goldmine but I need to continue to maintain it to keep harvesting,” he said.