A life to be valued

Tue 21 Aug 2018

Gyan’s mum was home alone when she unexpectedly went into labour two months early. Unable to get help in time, she had no choice but to deliver her own baby.

Born and raised in Dreke ni Kelo in Nausori Gyan Vinods entrance into the world was not without its dramas. As a stay at home mum, Gyan’s mum was home alone when she unexpectedly went into labour two months early. Unable to get help in time, she had no choice but to deliver her own baby.

A few hours later a baby girl was born, but there was no sign of life, so her mum accepted that the baby was stillborn and began preparations for burial. Not too long after, a local village bubu (old lady) from a nearby village by the name of Mereani popped in for a visit, when she noticed the little baby motionless, wrapped up in a blanket. After gaining permission from the mum, Mereani began work on this lifeless baby, she dipped the child in cold water and prepared to begin resuscitation, when she was met with the distinct cry of a new-born.

This moment created a strong bond between baby Gyan, a child born into a traditional Indian family, and Mereani an iTaukei (native Fijian) bubu who became her nursing mum.

Gyan’s dad was a police officer which meant that the family needed to travel a lot. After two short years with Mereani, Gyan’s dad was given a post in the island of Tavenui and so began a new journey for the family.

Leaving Mereani behind in Dreke ni Kelo was a heart-breaking experience for little Gyan, but they remained in contact till her (Mereani’s) death a few years later, of old age.

The family later moved to Suva where Gyan attended Dudley House School as a primary and middle school student. She continued on to teacher’s college where she first met her husband Mr. Mahendra Chandra Vinod. Gyan remained on Viti Levu where she enjoyed a career as a teacher of all subjects in Primary to Middle school grade and English and Health Science for High School grade, while also pursuing her passion in charity work.

Married at the age of twenty-one, she and Mahendra tried for children for many years. Despite many medical challenges and miscarriages, they persevered and were blessed with their first child when she was thirty-three years old. They celebrated more blessings following the first and ended with three beautiful, successful, and caring daughters.

Mahendra Vinod was a Fijian civil servant who was also a member of the House of Representatives of Fiji. He was a scholar who devoted his life to giving and learning. He was awarded the Imperial Service Order (ISO) in 1981 for his contribution to Fiji. In 1987 he was a member of Parliament when the military coup of 1987 broke out. Mr. Vinod was devoted to his people and did not want to leave his country (Fiji) or his people, however, the coup forced the family to relocate to New Zealand.

Calling in a favour, the family were assisted by the NZ High Commissioner (at the time) with relocating to NZ where they settled in Auckland. Here Mahendra became a teacher and shared his passion for learning by opening a school called Vishwa Shanti Ashram (now known as Ram Krishna Mandir) teaching the Hindu language, culture, & faith.

Following a three-year stint in Hawaii to complete his Bachelor of Science from the University of Hawaii, Mahendra and Gyan fulfilled a lifelong goal and took the family on a tour around the world. This experience ended up being one of the most memorable times for the family, particularly for Gyan who especially remembers Holland and Switzerland.

Today, the ever popular and much loved, Gyan sits in her favourite chair while knitting for charity in her ensuite at the home of her oldest child, overlooking Manukau heights reliving her stories to the many visitors she welcomes on a daily basis. Fond memories shared with her beloved Mahendra.

A life filled with adventures, experiences, loss, and love.

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