Testimonials

Then, we are faced with the issue of low pension take-up and low member balances. The truth is members are now demanding so much more from us especially in terms of what they can get out of the Fund in terms of benefits.

Amidst all these demands, there are also grateful members out there. Such, as this case in Labasa

keleraMeet Mrs Kelera Vukica Tuiwainikai from Kese Village in the Yasawa Islands, who now resides in Labasa. She turns 75 in July but doesn't look her age. She has aged well, stands tall and is vibrant woman; her smile captures you and her eyes sparkle with kindness and laughter.

Mrs Tuiwanikai has been a pensioner for more than 10 years and has never regretted her decision to become one. She worked as a nurse at the Lautoka Hospital until she got married, relocated to Labasa and took up her post as a nursing sister until she retired.

During the forum she stood up and thanked FNPF for taking care of its members and providing a platform where executives and managers can discuss on a more personal level with members.

This is her story:

As Mrs Tuiwainikai approached retirement she had enquired with her colleagues and friends on the best course of action in regards to her FNPF funds; she received various advise. Two of her closest friends had told her to fully withdraw her funds as FNPF had an uncertain future and it wasn't safe to leave her money with the Fund. Her Indo-Fijian colleagues were strongly against this and as they had suggested she opted for pension. Kelera recalls as years went by she heard that her 2 friends who had told her to fully withdraw her FNPF funds had befallen difficult times:

Friend 1 – She bought a property after fully withdrawing her FNPF funds and later transferred the ownership to her daughter. After an argument with her daughter, she was told to leave the house so she had no choice but to move to Suva and live with relatives going from one house to another. The daughter later sold the house and shewas left without a home to call her own nor the finances to survive on till her passing away.

Friend 2 – Even after fully withdrawing her FNPF funds she later returned to employment until she suffered a stroke. She is now bedridden as she never recovered from the stroke and does not have the means for professional care. "So you see compared to my two unfortunate friends I am quite lucky; had I listened to them I would have probably ended up in the same situation or another ill-fated situation that would have left me destitute," she said.

"I have met former work colleagues who have approached me requesting that I return to work as they are in need of extra hands but, I tell them as you are paid I am also paid but the difference between you and I, I don't have to work for the money I receive. I have done my time in the formal sector and now it is the time for me to relax and enjoy the fruit of my hard work.

"I believe with proper timing, savings and advice we all get to a point where we can live comfortably till we are called to rest."

Kelera knows that the Pension Reform resulted in many pensioners receiving less then what they were initially paid but, as she listened to the Member Forum presentation and the executives' explanations, as unfortunate as the situation was it was inevitable.

"I believe we must live within our means, I am an old woman I do not need much to live a happy and comfortable life."

Kelera would like to encourage the young generation of Fiji to think long and hard.

"For me pension was always the last decision for me in terms of my FNPF funds and it might not be an ideal option for many who are still working but you must think long and hard about your future. Nowadays there is no guarantee that the children you took care of will look after you in your old age, so you have to be smart and prepare for a time where you will not have a consistent source of income."

To conclude her story, Kelera believes that it is the responsibility of every member to prepare themselves for retirement and consult as widely as possible on the options to save for retirement.

For now: "I will continue to live everyday thankful that I can afford the means to do so comfortably without relying on my kids."

Her story serves as an inspiration and a testimony that it is possible to be financially secure upon retiring. As custodians of FNPF members funds; we can do our bit to help create awareness on benefits of pension – and we can always re-tell Kelera's story.

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