Painting for survival – Emele supports family

Emele shows off one of her paintings. Picture: SUPPLIED

Emele Taivei Kacanavesikula, of Nawaka, Nadi, resorted to painting to support her family after her husband was laid off from work due to the impact of COVID-19.

Originally from Lau, she was inspired to paint from an early age by her father.

The 30-year-old gave up artistry after she married, working at different businesses and taking care of her children.

She said with nil income, one of the biggest challenges she faced so far was taking care of her five-month-old baby.

They do not have any other source of income.

“My husband was a casual employee and was laid off from work at the end of March, just after Fiji confirmed its first case,” she said.

“Our family consisting of three children were solely dependent on him. After he got laid off we faced a lot of struggles with basic household needs.

“We used to ask our relatives for help in small things we needed, but with the prolonged period of hardship it is hard to ask them for more assistance.”

Looking at options to survive, Kacanavesikula’s husband and sister encouraged her to undertake canvas painting.

So she got hold of her father’s left over paint stationery and commenced painting, exchanging the finished product for groceries and essential items in the Batter for Better Fiji Facebook page.

“While my husband devoted all his time looking after the kids and doing household work – cleaning and washing – I painted.”

Unfortunately, after trading all her paintings and artwork, she could not afford to buy additional stationery to continue painting.

Then help came from an NGO after she reached out to them.

“In a search for assistance, I reached out to an NGO Hands across Fiji. After they posted my story on their organisation page another NGO called Voice of Needy Foundation noticed and provided help.

“I’m so thankful to Voice of Needy Foundation for providing me with stationery and encouraging me to kick start my art career”

Her message to the people during this pandemic is to “help and support one another more than before so one is left behind”.

She is now planning to turn her hobby in to a large scale business.

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