Breaking Barriers in a Man’s World
When Temalesi Bui of Wainibuka decided to get out of her comfort zone she certainly found herself in a challenging place – draped in overalls, reflector jacket, knee-high boots and a Telecom Fiji Limited cap, supervising contractors digging metre deep roadside trenches for fibre optic cables. Bui, 22, likes the job because it pushes her “to the limits”. She toils in the same sweltering heat and intermittent rain along the Kings Road as her male workforce on a labour-intensive project that is intended to improve Fiji’s telecommunications capacity. “This is my fourth week on this stretch and I’ve liked every moment of it. Next week I will go back to Suva while another team comes for their four-week rotation,” Bui said. “When the opportunity to work here came, my dad and mum encouraged me and I applied. I work in the IT section of TFL and thought this field job would give me practical experience.” Bui is a former student of Suva Adventist College in Lami who went on to study Information Technology Networking at Fiji National University. She has been working with TFL for about a year. “At first I felt a bit awkward being with a male workforce, some of whom were much older than I am. But with time I overcame that challenge and now I am used to them being around me – and that’s because they’ve helped me cope,” Bui said. “A great thing about being in the company of men is they joke a lot and like to have fun. When they know you are new
or young, they take good care of you just like their own daughters. I also like the fact that they are powerful, do not gossip and work hard.” Bui said being part of a project team required hard work, as a big part of the job involved physical labour such as pulling, lifting, digging, dragging and so forth. Long hours in hot or wet conditions had to be contended with. “We are up each day at six am. We have our devotion, have our shower, eat breakfast and then we are off to work for the whole day.” “Sometimes we work late into the night after 12 hours straight in the scorching sun or pouring rain. Luckily I get a lot of help from my male colleagues that makes the work bearable. I get really exhausted and after work just can’t wait to sleep.” When days turn into weeks, Bui misses home and the company of her mother and four brothers and sisters, but encouragement of workmates keeps her strong. Bui plans to go to the University of the South Pacific shortly to further her studies in IT. Her dad, who works as a TFL project team leader and mum, a civil servant with the Ministry of Finance, both want her to get a degree. “Mum encourages me a lot and she’s okay with me being in a man’s world. Girls can do anything, all they need is support. I would like to challenge young women out there to never be afraid of entering a man’s world. In any case, there was hardly any more exclusive ‘men’s world’ around, Bui said.
Bui takes a break from work.
Bui feels content with long working hours in hot or wet conditions.