Mike Kumar MBA, JP
Founder/ Director Monfort Engineering; Director Fiji Eye Project Inc.;Fitting & Machining (1983-1984)
When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to be where I am today. Being poor made me and my brother live apart for our entire life. While I was living with my parents and two sisters, my brother was living with my grandparents. Dad did not have a regular job being a labourer which forced my brother to live apart. I wish that we could have spent more time together.
At the age of 16 I had to make a decision whilst carefully considering the situation at home. Both my sisters were attending secondary school, Mum was not working and things were difficult. I had applied for vocational training at Monfort Boys’ Town. I was overjoyed when I received a letter of acceptance, however, this joy did not last too long when the dust settled. Different thoughts started mounting as I have never been to Suva before, I have not stayed apart from my parents and above all how can I leave them. It was with reluctance I accepted the offer and to study at Monfort Boys town for two years (1983-1984) in Fitting and Machining Trade.
The journey from Ba to Suva was long and painful as I had to say bye to mum and my sisters. Upon reaching Montfort Boys Town, we were well received by the Brothers. The hardest part was saying bye to my Dad. I saw tears trickled down his eyes as much as he tried to hide from me. This was the very first time I saw my dad’s tears. This was heart breaking for me as I wondered what was going on in his mind, if he was financially better off, he wouldn’t be leaving his 16 year old son apart from his household.
Whilst the tears of sadness and parting played its role, the Angels of the Brothers of St Gabriel already had a plan for my life, to bring meaning to every drop of my father’s tears. This gave birth to my focus to study hard and never to lose sight of the bigger picture. Structured daily programme from the first bell to hitting the bed at night gave little time to waste. Quality theory and practical training together with gardening, sports, entertainment, evening classes and competitions moulded us together with friendship, team work, strength and knowledge. Endless opportunities prevailed in terms of acquiring life skills such as managing time, cleaning and organising, doing our laundry, communication, resilience and ability to cope with problems, self-awareness and empathy and many others. I attained added leadership skills by being a member of scouts, managing canteen, room leadership, vice-captain and member of the Monfort Boys Town soccer team in 1984 and won National Secondary Schools Soccer Championship which was held at Churchill Park Lautoka.
Two years passed very quickly, I gained so much in such a short time and I felt fully armoured and ready to take on the world. Dad, Mum and both my sisters attended my graduation and the feeling of returning home was divided. On one side I was leaving my friends and the other I was returning to my family. I was delighted to get employment at Nagan Engineering, Ba almost straight away after returning home. I was employed by some reputable companies such as Akbar Engineering, Pacific engineers and Carpenters Ship Repairs. Whilst employed during the day I continued my studies at FNTC in the night classes. With 10 years of local experience I was accepted to migrate as a Fitter/ Machinist to Sydney Australia under skills migration category in 1993. Being in a good network with Ex- Monfort Boys’ Town students in Australia enabled me to start work after three days of arriving Down Under. I continued my studies in Engineering after a year when settled. I was happily employed by some reputable companies here in Sydney with a world of opportunities to grow. I took up Business studies and Project Management at university and Technical College respectively as I’ve always dreamt of owning my own engineering business. Hard work, persistence and sacrifice paved the way to achieve this in 2001. I proudly named the company as Monfort Engineering after receiving approval from Brother Thomas (Director Montfort Boys’ Town 2001). In 2013, Monfort Engineering was awarded as the winner of the local business awards in Blacktown City. Monfort engineering manufactures, refurbishes and repairs parts and equipment for a variety of industries here in Sydney, Australia for the last 18 years. And in the last 18 years, we have trained apprentices, interns from universities and sponsored ex-Monfort Boys Town students from Fiji for migration to Australia.
One of my other goals was to finish my Masters in Business Studies before I turned 50. And in 2017 God blessed me with this as well. With the slogan, Make Others Happy and you will be Happier, God empowered me to lead a fifteen member Medical team to Fiji this year on its 12th trip in fourteen years where 131 poor eye defective patients received eye sight including 5 children as little as 2 years old at Lautoka Hospital. This has been made possible only through the love of God and through his mighty powers.
As I look back and ponder on every moment of my incredible journey, I kneel down and ask my saviour to bless all those upon whose shoulders I stand tall, especially the Brothers of St Gabriel, Sisters of Monfort, teachers, mentors, friends and all who guided me. God richly bless you all.
Deputy Mayor of MBT-1979
Thousand Miles of journey starts with a single step. Three years that I studied at MBT (Montfort Boys’ Town) has taught me Respect, Honesty, Discipline, virtues for life and a skill that puts bread and butter on my family’s table regularly. I am humbled to have been studied at MBT.
Respect your family, the people that you come across every day. Honesty in everything that you do, whether at your workplace or the people that you deal with in any walks of life. Discipline yourself with your thoughts, your time and whatever blessings that may come your way. Lust, Greed, and Thieving will never be your friend. I Kito Kostino and am very grateful to the Brothers of St Gabriel, who taught, guided and instilled in me the morale uprightness, discipline, integrity and made me what I am today. At MBT, Brothers were my Parents for three years. When I left MBT with my Trade Certificate and when I landed on my first job, I was determined one day I want to own a car, a home with a house and be my own boss at my own garage. From then on, I gained work experience for 11 years. Saved money whatever I could collect and then decided it’s time to be my own boss. That is how, I started my own garage.
I respect every person that deals with me every day. I am honest with them in every dealings I do. Discipline with myself and as well as with my co- workers. Time is time and I values and virtues that were instilled in me by My Brothers at MBT and that is manifested in my work areas and in me, my colleagues and in my family. No laziness during working hours. When someone ask me where did I learn my trade or who taught me to be an entrepreneur and successful at it, my humbling reply is MBT and the Brothers of St Gabriel. I have learned, when you become successful in life in whatever way, never forget your family and the humble beginning I have had, for they were always supporting me in their own way. Never forget MBT because of them you have a trade and successful living.
Most of all, I value myself for having been able to scale the ladders of success that when I meet people and shake their hands in jubilation, I humbly reminisce the first day when I entered MBT and had seen the visual board placed at the entrance of MBT, which read ‘Thousands miles of journey starts with a single step” and when I look back, I am humbled to see the strides I have made. Salutation to MBT and Montfort Brothers of Saint Gabriel with an attitude of gratitude. They are the giants, on whose shoulders I climbed to see a little further than my fellow colleagues. I admire their dedicated and selfless service to Fiji!
I Manasa Radolo graduate of 1984 with class III trade certificate in block laying, plastering and carpentry is doing very well in my enterprise. I started working in 1985 under rural housing project for four years with $10.00per week and other private works. Helping people in need in terms of renovation, block work, plastering, construction of drive ways, sea walls, maintenance of roof etc was undertaken. In 1986 I was able to construct a single storey house with two bedroom, lounge, kitchen, dining room and bathroom for my parents. 1990-1994 established a small rural housing scheme at my village to carry out all village projects and individual who can afford to prepare their own building material to support. 2004 continued my studies with F.I.T. I have worked for Kirti Construction Company, Ambe Construction Company, Tulsi Construction Company and Lautoka City Council for six months (attachment). 2007-08 completed my diploma in Building Engineering stages 1,2,3,4. In 2009 I came back to Boys Town as instructor in Block Laying and carpentry with the aim to equip these students for a better future. A code that always is remembered at the construction field “to work with a Montfortian silence will be created with questioning minds
“Na tamata daucakacaka sa sega na ka e kadua kina. Vota vakadodonu na i vakavuli dina”.
Mr. Satish Kumar
Ray of Hope
I still remember that morning in 1978 when my father told me that I could no longer attend school because of financial problems. We were on our way to harvest sugarcane, when I was told that a letter was waiting for me at the popular grocery store. To my disbelief I found out that I was accepted at Boys Town. I was overwhelmed with happiness and knew that this was my only chance to become somebody. The transformation of my farm boy to a vocational student thus began. I graduated as a cabinet maker in 1981 and began my job as an instructor in the same ten years later. After my ten year stint at Boys Town I left the beautiful shores of Fiji for the land of opportunities in USA. I owe my sincere gratitude to the Brothers of St. Gabriel in making and molding me into what I am today. I would like to express my appreciation to my mentors who groomed me academically and to my pleasant stay at Boys’ Town. I leave you with this food for thought:
“There is light at the end of every tunnel”
Mr. Suliasi Elo
I Suliasi Elo Junior joined Boys Town in 1998. During my training at Boys’ Town, I really came across lots of problems and hard training and discipline. But all of this hard training really helped me a lot and made me learn from the mistake I did. Sometimes I really wanted to give up and leave for home but only the school motto gave guts and strength, which is “I must, I can” and I will make it to the end, where I am today. At the moment I am working for E.G.M. I work on big engines like V16 and on line 8 cylinder. But most of the time I service injectors and fuel pumps. Have a wonderful year.
“I must, I can”
Epeli Lutua Soge
It was a privilege to have been accepted at Montfort Boys’ Town as one of the trainee students. Young men who went through Boys’ Town hailed from various academic levels. I was indeed very lucky to be among other young men who also undertook vocational training. Boys Town managed by Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel provides not only trade skills but also moral and spiritual values. 1992 was the first year at Boys Town and I enjoyed very much as discipline and perseverance got me through. I successfully completed my three year course and graduated with honors as a carpenter. I would like to convey my gratitude to the Brothers, staff and my fellow colleagues for their tremendous help and support and especially for their outstanding leadership.
Mr. Clive Amputch
I have had the pleasure of being acquainted with the Montfort Boys’ Town since it’s established. At one time I lived close by at Wainadoi running a small vegetable farm. In 1994-95 I sponsored a student to undertake a course in Cabinet Making. Navi spent 3 years at Montfort and graduated with success.
What startled me is that Navi was before the exposure to MBT, a young man who had no focus and floating in the air. His legs were not on the ground. Navi emerged from Boys’ Town, a completely changed person, more focused, serious about his responsibilities and strength by the confidence he developed at Montfort. He was much matured. Navi has never been without work since leaving Montfort. He is in demand, has proved a success and honored the trust I had in him.
The course that MBT conducts is a continuous program, it is Complete in all respect and ensures that the student leaves the school with the ability of taking a job with minimum supervision, if at all. Just as important, is the fact that the course is affordable and students leave the school as individuals, fitting in the society very well and being a credit to Boys’ Town. I thank the dedication of the Brothers who have done such a wonderful job. May God bless them and
Montfort Boys’ Town.