PEOPLE: Anaseini the masi designer

Anaseini Lewavai when she was at work before covid-19 reach our shores. Picture: SUPPLIED.

When Anaseini Lewavai lost her job as a manager at a renowned Nadi International Airport duty-free outlet in March this year, she felt the world cave in around her.

She felt like all her hard work at attaining a degree after studying at the Fiji Institute of Technology and University of the South Pacific had been in vain.

“It was a very heartbreaking experience when I was told to go home because the airport was closing down,” the 47-year-old mother-of-three said.

“I started to think back to what my forefathers and my family back in the island of Vatulele normally did to make a living, they are known all over Fiji as masi makers.

“So I contacted my family in Taunovo Village, Vatulele, and told them I was going to buy groceries and bartered for plain white masi from them.”

Mrs Lewavai said she bought groceries and divided them into $20 packs and bartered each pack for a piece of white masi worth $20.

“I designed the masi and sold it.

“That has kept me going until today.

“What also inspired me and made me think outside the box was a book I read titled, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.”

Ms Lewavai said her journey from primary education at Chauhan Memorial School in Veisari, Lami, and secondary studies at Suva Muslim College and Lami High School to the retail sector at the airport had not been in vain because of the many lessons and experiences she acquired along the way.

“I’m happy with the decision I made during the lockdown to go into business for myself.

“What I am earning from my business is more than what I used to receive while working as a category manager at Nadi International Airport.

“I market my masi on Facebook and people call from all over Fiji because they are interested in buying masi from me.”

Ms Lewavai said people who had lost their jobs because of COVID-19 should return to their village for inspiration.

“I would like to encourage them to go back to their village and look at what their village is famous for.

“For us from Vatulele, we are known as masi makers, people from Daku Village, Tailevu, come from the only place in Fiji where they make the iri ni daku (fan).

“We can use all the knowledge that introduced by our ancestors to earn a living today.”

She is studying for a Masters in International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Fiji.

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