Lawyer course

Here I am, lawyer

Naomi Bukalidi was one of 758 airline workers who were made redundant at Fiji Airways on Monday, May 25, 2020.

The 30-year-old from the village of Visoto in Ovalau flew with the airline for five years.

“I flew with them until that fateful day, termination,” she said.

In 2009, she graduated from high school and went to study law at the University of the South Pacific in 2010.

She only had one semester left in law school to graduate.

“While I was flying I completed my degree and graduated in 2017.

“I kept flying and I planned to end that career after five years, but it was so hard. You know that kind of vesumona job with all the free travel.

“Here Corona arrived and exactly on my fifth year I was fired.”

Being the person she is, she decided to swim, not sink, and brought her family back to the village.

“The layoff was one of the biggest things that happened to me because I was married and my husband was not a citizen, and he couldn’t work and of course my two boys, so financially, everything depended on me.

“I’m the type of person who doesn’t immediately process something bad when it happens. If I do, I’ll get depressed.

“So I just picked up my family, paid last month’s rent and moved them to Ovalau.”

Having a place to go back to was one of the biggest cushions of the termination blow.

“I know a lot of my former colleagues who were also made redundant didn’t own land, they just rented and didn’t have close family nearby. Some of them fell face down.

“I was lucky to have my village to return to, a home and a family, and they were so welcoming.”

Naomi had planned to leave the flight, but was not financially ready at the time. When she, her husband and two sons arrived in the village, she immediately went into survival mode and did all she could to provide for her family.

“I just did everything I could, make popcorn and beans to sell, anything to pay for diapers, anything, then I realized I had bigger dreams and that I had to go out and do something else.”

So she enrolled in USP’s Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP).

“When I went to do PDLP, I went by faith. “It was the obvious next step in something I had already started, but when I applied for the Higher Education Loans Program my application was late.”

With the help of her family and the business in her village, she was able to complete her PDLP program and was admitted to the High Court Bar in November last year.

“So my education, down to everything I wear, has been fully paid for.

“I have been so blessed throughout my educational journey and here I am, a lawyer!”

She also said she had a support system among her colleagues who were doing PDLP.

“It was more teamwork than individual work. This group of PDLP students must be the most supportive group ever, even our teachers.

She was filled with emotion as she took the oath.

“Every word meant something to my whole being. It represented hard work, no sleep, and the whole journey of my life so far.