Nanise’s Christ­mas Gift to Fiji!

mailife - - Contents - By JOHN MITCHELL Pho­tos by JONE LUVENITOGA

“I did it for Fiji!” That was the way Nakelo beauty Nanise Rain­ima summed up her Miss World 2017 ex­pe­ri­ence. Re­turn­ing without the cov­eted crown and sash didn’t dis­cour­age her, but has spurred her to grow in con­fi­dence and spirit. As soon as she jet­ted back into the coun­try from Sanya, China she headed straight to her vil­lage in Na­muka, Tailevu. There she re­cu­per­ated for a week be­fore re­turn­ing to work. She also spoke to maiL­ife about her re­cent jour­ney to the high­est plat­form of world pageantry. “I took part in Miss World be­cause of all Fi­jians and young women. I did it for Fiji know­ing I had a lot to of­fer as an iTaukei woman. My bui ni ga (hairdo) and tekiteki (flower worn on the ear) were my way of telling iTaukei women that it’s okay to wear these and as is­lan­ders we are powerful, unique and should feel beau­ti­ful in our own skin.” As a stu­dent, Rain­ima at­tended Veiuto Pri­mary School and Suva Gram­mar School. She grad­u­ated with a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence de­gree ma­jor­ing in Chem­istry and Bi­ol­ogy from the Univer­sity of the South Pa­cific in 2014. She works as a full­time mis­sion­ary for Cam­pus Cru­sade for Christ, a faith-based or­ga­ni­za­tion with more than 190 branches world­wide, and one day hopes to ful­fill her child­hood dream of becoming a med­i­cal doc­tor. She said par­tic­i­pat­ing in Miss World has been long over­due. “Peo­ple en­cour­aged me to do Miss World years ago but I wasn’t con­vinced. I couldn’t see my­self do­ing it be­cause I am con­ser­va­tive and re­served. I only con­sid­ered par­tic­i­pat­ing last year af­ter or­gan­is­ers had re­moved the beach­wear cat­e­gory. I saw how the Hibis­cus Fes­ti­val had given me an op­por­tu­nity to im­pact young women and I wanted to do more.”

Rain­ima added she also wanted to de­mys­tify per­cep­tions of beauty. “Ev­ery­thing from my cos­tumes, my mes­sages, my bui ni ga and tekiteki were bold state­ments on how proud I was to be an iTaukei woman on the world stage. My par­tic­i­pa­tion was not solely for the crown and the sash but to truly em­body the beauty I had in­side as a Fi­jian. Rain­ima’s trip to China was an “un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence” which she said was en­riched by travel, food, cul­ture and meet­ing new friends. “I had never been away from home that long. I en­joyed the Chi­nese cul­ture, the food es­pe­cially, spend­ing time with the girls (Miss World con­tes­tants) and the mem­o­ries I brought back with me. “We still talk about it in our chat group. Just this morn­ing one of the girls said we took back parts and mem­o­ries of each other, gained new friend­ships and got to know our­selves a bit more.”

Rain­ima ac­knowl­edges the sup­port of her par­ents and four sib­lings, say­ing they were be­hind her from day one. She also feels over­whelmed by thoughts, prayers and kind words from fel­low cit­i­zens. “I’m blessed and ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent Fiji. It has moulded me to be the woman I am but I wouldn’t have done it without my fam­ily. I thank my par­ents for be­ing my role mod­els. They’ve been my great­est sup­port­ers and have al­ways re­spected my de­ci­sions as long as they made me happy. “I thank all my sib­lings too….if my older two brothers were ever im­pos­ing or over pro­tec­tive it would be in my best in­ter­est and they’ve learnt a lot from my dad be­cause he has al­ways been un­der­stand­ing. I thank all Fi­jians too for ral­ly­ing be­hind me.“Rain­ima loves try­ing new things and her Miss World feat is strong ev­i­dence of her na­ture. She is pas­sion­ate about mu­sic, read­ing tak­ing part in ac­tive sports and main­tain­ing a healthy lifestyle. Her dad grew up dream­ing of becoming a doc­tor but went into the bank­ing field be­fore later becoming a pas­tor. She de­cided to con­tinue her fa­ther’s dream. “When dad got into do­ing church min­istry I wanted to con­tinue his child­hood dream. Since then I have been keen on pur­su­ing medicine, hence my de­gree in sci­ence. Maybe in the near fu­ture I will pur­sue medicine.” Rain­ima is rel­a­tively new to vil­lage life. Her fam­ily only moved to Na­muka around 2014 when her grand­fa­ther passed away and her grand­mother needed care. She has moved around a lot be­cause of her par­ents’ work. “We came to the vil­lage just when I fin­ished univer­sity in 2014. I wasn’t the typ­i­cal vil­lage girl but when we moved in I got to ap­pre­ci­ate my cul­ture and her­itage and to know my rel­a­tives. “Now I have a flat in Suva where I live with my younger sis­ter, but I love my vil­lage be­cause it makes me un­der­stand my roles, gives me a sense of iden­tity, helps me know my rel­a­tives and there’s al­ways good food and the op­por­tu­nity to till the land.” Dur­ing her last year at USP Rain­ima ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in a project for Cam­pus Cru­sade and has been a full­time mis­sion­ary since. “I grew up in a Chris­tian fam­ily but I of­ten over­looked sim­ple truths. Join­ing Cam­pus Cru­sade made me more se­cure in my re­la­tion­ship with God. I don’t know if this is go­ing to be my job for life but be­ing a pub­lic figure, I see it as an op­por­tu­nity to share the gospel. ““I thought I’d do mis­sion­ary work for two years but I’ve lasted four. I’m at a point where I’m still con­sid­er­ing whether to re­main a mis­sion­ary or ex­plore other ca­reer op­tions.” Nev­er­the­less, Rain­ima said her Chris­tian and Fi­jian val­ues made her shine in China and left an im­pres­sion on some Miss World 2017 con­tes­tants. “Girls would come up to me and say “we love you Fiji”. We were called by our own coun­try names be­cause it was hard to cor­rectly pro­nounce names so I was called Fiji.”

“Girls would call out “Fiji what are you do­ing?” “Fiji come here!” I was a friend to ev­ery­one and they ap­pre­ci­ated this be­cause I was not forc­ing it but gen­uinely ex­press­ing Fi­jian hos­pi­tal­ity and warmth. By the time the pageant ended, they loved Fiji, they loved the coun­try and they loved the peo­ple. “I told them Fi­jians were unique, kind hearted and friendly peo­ple who were al­ways will­ing to help and if we had the time, money, the ca­pac­ity to give, we would do it. The girls would then tell me ‘you are the sweet­est and most car­ing girl out of all of us. De­spite the re­sults you will still be our Miss World’.” “That’s why I am so over­whelmed and happy about my China ex­pe­ri­ence. I’m happy with the in­tan­gi­ble suc­cess and vic­tory I achieved. Rain­ima said a few Miss World con­tes­tants have ex­pressed their de­sire to hol­i­day in Fiji. They in­clude those from Nether­lands, Ro­ma­nia, Ecuador, Nor­way, Malta, In­done­sia and Guam. While some girls were pres­sured to win, Rain­ima feels she was never bur­dened to be the win­ner. “I didn’t get to view all your videos, well wishes and com­ments on so­cial me­dia be­cause so­cial me­dia in China is con­trolled. If any­thing, I felt en­cour­aged by the mes­sages and never re­ally felt any bur­den on my shoul­ders.” “Pageant Direc­tor Andhy Blake kept telling me ev­ery­one back home was be­hind me. He said ‘you’ve stirred up in­ter­est amongst all Fi­jians and ev­ery­one is on Miss World mode’. That to me was en­cour­ag­ing and I didn’t see the competition as a bur­den.” Rain­ima moved hearts world­wide when she jumped into the pool to save Miss Kenya, who strug­gled to swim dur­ing her group yel­low sports chal­lenge. She said it was the Fi­jian spirit in her that made her jump. “It was in­stinct. I did it without any­one telling me to. Swim­ming was the fi­nal event in the competition and Miss Kenya did not seem too con­fi­dent. When she got in the pool she didn’t swim even five me­tres and was strug­gling.” “We en­cour­aged her from the side of the pool to fin­ish the race. All I know is tak­ing off my socks and jump­ing in. I told her she was not go­ing to quit and we would do it to­gether as a team so I grabbed her by the waist and we swam to reach the end.” Ev­ery­one was touched by her ac­tion and la­belled Rain­ima’s brav­ery as “the sweet­est thing”. “They thanked me for dis­re­gard­ing glam­our and competition. Some­one came and hugged me say­ing I was brave while Miss Kenya started call­ing me “Fiji my sav­ior.” An­other thing that kept peo­ple talk­ing were the colour­ful flow­ers Rain­ima wore through­out the competition with her wardrobe of Pa­cific-in­spired cou­ture. “A lot of girls were in­ter­ested in my hair and they would just come and touch it. I ex­plained to them we don’t touch peo­ple’s hair be­cause the head was deemed sa­cred among indige­nous Fi­jians. They kept ask­ing how I kept my hair in shape and were in­spired to see the way I wore it nat­u­rally. “Ev­ery time I wore a tekiteki they’d ad­mire it. I think I took more than 10 flow­ers to ac­ces­sorise with my dif­fer­ent out­fits. Some didn’t come back as my

African sis­ters took them. But they didn’t know the se­cret to Rain­ima’s beau­ti­ful hairdo – co­conut-based Trendy hair con­di­tioner and sham­poo and a seru kau (Fi­jian comb) do­nated by her lo­cal hair dresser. Rain­ima’s voice also took China by sur­prise when she al­most scooped first prize in the Miss World 2017 Tal­ent Cat­e­gory, which could have au­to­mat­i­cally put her among the top 40 fi­nal­ists. She sang “Hope” a song she com­posed in mem­ory of the strug­gles her grand­mother went through when battling can­cer a few years back. She said her years of singing in church and play­ing in­stru­ments paid off when she scored an orig­i­nal at Miss World. “My grand­mother was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the song. I had a gui­tar and I was play­ing one day when the melody just came. I de­cided to use it for Miss World and be re­minded about my grand­mother and the im­por­tance of the mes­sage of hope.” When asked about her views on beauty, Rain­ima said while phys­i­cal beauty was im­por­tant, in­ner beauty was eter­nal. “There’s a quote I re­ally like and it says beauty is not flaw­less but it shines through your flaws. You may re­quire make up on the out­side but if you fo­cus on in­ter­nal beauty you will not be de­fined by how you look on the out­side.” “I told girls in China that judges may see con­tes­tants ex­ter­nally but this in no way re­flected and de­fined who we were in­side. I hope that changed the way some viewed them­selves.” As a mes­sage for Christ­mas and New Year, Rain­ima said the festive sea­son should be about joy, love, giv­ing and fam­ily. “I’ve al­ways seen Christ­mas as a joy­ous sea­son and time of giv­ing. Some­times we can be caught up with the festive sea­son that we take for granted the things that mat­ter. We need to spend qual­ity time with fam­ily.” “As a na­tion we should look at Christ­mas as time to cel­e­brate the plan of sal­va­tion through the birth of the Lord Je­sus Christ. It is a time to relook at what we’ve done in the year.” Rain­ima said while Miss World was over, for her the real job of em­pow­er­ing young women had just be­gun. “If you are a young woman grow­ing up, you have a long way to go. You’ve got to be tough, stand on your own two feet and be a woman of your own opin­ion and be­lief. Be your own per­son. If you go out un­pre­pared, you can get lost. “You should be able to know who you are and not let oth­ers de­fine you.”Rain­ima likes to spend her spare time with fam­ily. She uses the week­end as a time of rest­ing, watch­ing car­toons and su­per he­roes movies. She also loves read­ing, singing and play­ing her gui­tar. When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of wed­ding bells any time soon or if she had a boyfriend, Rain­ima could only gig­gle. “I think boys would be in­tim­i­dated by what I’ve achieved but at this point I have no­body (boyfriend/part­ner). There hasn’t been one whose been bold enough, I guess. You can al­ways know when some­one’s in­ten­tion is re­spect­ful and hon­ourable and I haven’t come across any­one yet. So I am def­i­nitely tak­ing my time.”

Nanise with chil­dren of Na­muka Vil­lage.

Nanise re­laxes at home in Na­muka Vil­lage with her par­ents Inise and Pas­tor Maika Rain­ima. Nanise pos­ing with other con­tes­tants dur­ing the Miss World 2017 in Sanya, China last month. Nanise with fel­low con­tes­tants. Be­hind her (on the right) is Miss...

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