Tears of Joy
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.
Mike Kumar MBA, JP
Founder/ Director Monfort Engineering; Director Fiji Eye Project Inc.;Fitting & Machining (1983-1984)
Dear Friends of Montfort Boys’ Town,
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!
Deputy Mayor of MBT-1979