SIB­LINGS WATCH

IN HOR­ROR AS OLDER SIS­TER BURNS

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SELITA BOLANAVANUA TAILEVU Edited by Naisa Koroi Feed­back: selita.bolanavanua@fi­jisun.com.fj

Who will wash our uni­forms now? Who will help us with our home­work? Who will make af­ter­noon tea for us? Th­ese were some of the ques­tions that Taito Rokoca, 14, asked when he re­counted how he watched his older sis­ter, Paulini Kaloumaira, burn while try­ing to cook cas­sava for din­ner. The in­ci­dent took place on Thurs­day at Sote Vil­lage, Tailevu. Taito and younger sis­ter Ana Ra­dini­bau, 9, said Paulini, 19, was more like a mother to them. “We can’t even recog­nise her face. She al­ways cooks for us in the morn­ing, make us lunch and cooks din­ner. We re­ally miss her,” said Taito. Paulini was a Year 11 stu­dent of Tailevu North Col­lege. Taito, Ana and Paulini have two older sib­lings, both liv­ing in Nadi - the el­dest is mar­ried while the other is study­ing. The sib­lings had lost their mother in 2013 and since then Paulini was al­ways there for Taito and Ana.

The chil­dren’s grand­fa­ther, Le­vani Bau, 75, said: “I couldn’t recog­nise her face and all her body was burnt. “She’s a very hard­work­ing girl and she’s like their mother in this house. “She does ev­ery­thing in this house and her two young sib­lings al­ways de­pend on her for ev­ery­thing. “My two grand­chil­dren were hang­ing onto me while see­ing their sis­ter burn. It’s re­ally painful be­cause th­ese two kids will be very help­less with­out her,” said Mr Bau. Taito said Paulini had asked them to peel some cas­sava. She then set the pot of cas­sava on a kerosene stove to cook. While cook­ing, she said the flames were weak so she de­cided to use fire­wood. “She wanted to use kerosene to light the fire but she couldn’t find the kerosene gal­lon, so she picked up the ben­zene (pre­mix) gal­lon to use. Just when she opened the gal­lon, the ben­zene fume dif­fused in the kitchen and that’s when the fire started from the kerosene stove. The gal­lon that she was hold­ing ex­ploded and she couldn’t do any­thing,” Taito said. “When I shouted at her she just looked and waved. I ran out­side and call my grand­fa­ther and the vil­lagers came to put out the fire. She was com­pletely burnt.”

One of Paulini’s school mate, Vasemaca Vere­basaga, also wit­nessed the in­ci­dent. “When I heard the kids shout­ing, I rushed to see what had hap­pened, all I saw was black flame in the kitchen and when I looked to the cor­ner of the kitchen, I saw Paulini I laid her down and cov­ered her,” she said. On their way to Nau­sori Hos­pi­tal Vasemaca said: “She was ask­ing me if Ana and Taito were ok and she was telling me to tell the driver to speed up since she was in deep pain. And she also told me not to leave her side.” Paulini was rushed to the Nau­sori Hos­pi­tal on Thurs­day af­ter­noon and was later trans­ferred to the Colo­nial War Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal that evening. She died yes­ter­day at CWM Hos­pi­tal. Vasemaca said Paulini had al­ways told them in school that she wanted to be­come a teacher.

Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

From left: The late Paulini Kaloumaira’s brother Taito Rokoca, grand­fa­ther, Le­vani Bau and sis­ter Ana Ra­dini­bau at their home in Sote Vil­lage, Tailevu yes­ter­day.

The late Paulini Kaloumaira.

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