The term “disabled” is often associated with people who normally rely on others to get through with the most basic activities like crossing a busy city street or even cooking a meal.
The term is hardly reflective of Lanieta Tuimabu’s station in life.
Despite being visually impaired from childhood, Tuimabu has been an inspiration for the visually impaired of society and the disabled in general.
She works, cooks, cleans and exchanges e-mails with colleagues and friends, everything that you would expect from a working woman and mother.
Tuimabu previously worked for Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation as a customer service representative, membership coordinator and support Administrative officer.
She was once employed by Westpac Banking Corporation as a customer service officer in the late 1990s.
The native of Nabouwalu in Kadavu, has served as President of the United Blind Persons of Fiji and also a Board member of the Pacific Disability Forum and also committee member for the Pacific Disability Forum Women’s committee.
She was also the vice-president of the Fiji Disabled People’s Federation, an organisation she now serves in a managerial role.
Blindness for many is developed from birth but Tuimabu’s case was different.
“I acquired blindness when I was 12 year old as a result of a meningitis infection,” said the mother of two.
Some able bodied individuals still have problems adapting to advancing technology including popular social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Understandably Tuimabu has encountered problems with these sorts of applications and while she frequently uses Facebook and YouTube, finds difficulty posting messages.
She feels YouTube is still not user-friendly and has difficulties listening to the sound of the videos, wondering whether it’s the JAWS software or the actual platform.
Irrespective of these challenges this lady perseveres nevertheless.
“Always have a positive mind-set — never look at the problems but instead manoeuvre around the problem to make a positive,” she said.
“I believe in living independently and sweating it out myself.”
Tuimabu was educated at Ballentine Memorial School, before taking on extension courses at the USP.
A deep-seated desire to succeed and to challenge herself constantly every day was the driving force behind her achievements to date.
Tuimabu said critically, disabled persons need to first accept their disability and this would set the platform for better interaction with the community and development of certain skills that would make life much easier.
“It took me about 12 years to finally accept the fact that I was disabled. After that life became much easier for me,” she said.
“These days I don’t shy about my blindness and don’t feel shy talking about it.
“You must also have the self-confidence to make the changes in your life that need to be made.”
Tuimabu is currently studying Good Governance, Leadership and Human Rights at the University of the South Pacific.