Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts g

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts
For few years now, pre and post global pandemic the Fiji Girmit Foundation Australia has hosted the Anniversary celebrations in Queensland, Australia.
The Engine room however to bring this event to reality was the generous sponsorship of Deo Family Charitable Foundation and Deo Group of Companies.

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts f
Fair to note the numerous patriotic interests generated with the proud descendants of the Girmit forebears. A Girmit legacy that has warmed the hearts of the Indian Community globally even Indian descendants of later Indian migrants.
The Girmit phenomenon, though shameful and ruthless the sad history it records, has now become a respected and revered global brand of human survival and modern day exemplary and noticeable global achievements of her descendants in all continents and territories across the globe.

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts i The Fiji Girmit Foundation Australia and her sponsors eternally treasures the Girmit phenomenon. Hence, with all honourable intent and purposes have gone above the rhetoric severally mimicked in intermitted post and periodic blog in social media, now decided to up the ante in not only celebrating anniversaries of Girmit era but duly recognising exceptional professional and civic achievements of nominated Girmit descendants.
Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts eOn May 18th, 2024, was the second time these awards were deservingly presented to Girmit descendants from Fiji, now residents of Queensland.
It was fitting therefore for the Chairman of the Fiji Girmit Foundation Australia, Jitendra Deo in a passionate speech expounded on the essence of Girmit and both Foundation’s vision and mission to keep Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burning in our hearts.
Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts dThis is the Chairman, Jitendra Deo’s Speech and in observance of Indigenous Australian protocol and rightly so recognised his fellow dignitaries and community leaders.
Greetings and Good Evening,
As Chairperson of the Deo Family Foundation and the Fiji Girmit Foundation Australia I extend our warmest greetings to everyone present here – Bula Vinaka, Namaste, Salaam.
As is customary, I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of this land, past, present, and emerging. Our deepest respects to their Elders.

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts b

A very warm welcome to our esteemed guests:
His Worship, Cr JON RAVEN Mayor of Logan City
JAMES MARTIN Member for Stretton
PAUL SCARR Senator for QLD
Cr TIM FRAZER – Councillor for Division 7, Logan City Council.
LEWIS LEE OAM – Chairman Australians of Chinese Heritage War Memorial Committee at Sunnybank RSL
ALAN CHEN – President of Universal Education and Multicultural Exchange Association.
JANE WANG – Secretary of Universal Education and Multicultural Exchange Association
LILA PRATAP – President of Damini Women’s Association
MIKE HARRIS – President of Australian American Association Brisbane
NAYDA HERNANDEZ – Secretary Queensland Multicultural and Wolston Park Cricket Club Secretary
Ms JUHEE PARK President of Southside Migration Association
Ms PINKY SINGH Candidate for Mansfield
RAJ PRASAD – Treasurer Indian Senior Citizens Association
ROSHINI SHARMA – President of Ekta Women’s group and Deputy Principal at Calamvale Community College
TERESA POKOJ – Treasurer of Australian American Association Brisbane
JITENDRA PRASAD – Charter president, past District Governor, and current District 9620 membership director.

Diya of hope lit 145 years ago burns on in our hearts a
Mr Ali with his wife Khursheed at the Girmit Nite Celebration

SHOBNA BALI – PRO of Indian Senior Citizens Association
Many others, I may be unable to mention all of you, I am so grateful and thank you all for your continued support for a most worthy course of public interest.
This month of May, and into June, a few countries around the world who were recipients of the thousands of Girmit workers from Indian in the 1800s, will commemorate Girmit day. Fiji will be joined by Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent, Grenadines and Suriname and others.
According to Girmit.org a comprehensive website on Girmit information and data composed by our dear sister Vanita Kumar, that over 2 million Indians were shipped to these Colonies around the globe in the mid-1800s to 1916. This website affirms that 60,500 were shipped to the Fiji Islands.
Ladies and gentlemen, please, I beg each of you to travel back with me in time to the early 1800 and attempt picture our Girmit forebearers long torturous open ocean journey with a very bleak promises for personal prosperity to hang on to. Landing in a land foreign in every way; foreign in language, political, religious and traditional culture, and even culinary preference.
Traumatised, tired and malnourished were our forebearers’ bodies and minds, still swaying in the rhythm of the open sea journey, over many weeks. A journey they were promised will just be around the corner for a few hours or few days.
From these fear and uncertainty, our forebears resolved the only way to steady their lives on firm life-foundation in a foreign land was through hard work, Indian perseverance gracefully weathering the ruthless colonial storms and challenges as semi-slaves.
How could we, the new millennium Girmitya descendants even consider chucking this proud legacy to the back burners of life?
Without them and their individual sweat and blood sacrifice, we most definitely would not have reached the plateau of prosperity, democracy and have a claim to our respective autonomy where we are today freely achieving what we aspire to be.
My wife Shanjeshni, I and our two handsome sons Ravneel and Soneel, with all honourable intent and purpose did engrave in the Constitution of our family foundation the vision and mission to advance the culture and identity of the Indian community in Australia , providing information on the history of the Girmitya to members and the general public through events and activities bringing in positive difference in the lives of people, empowering individuals and communities to achieve their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.
This is such a momentous event, and today, as you individually bless us with your attendance to celebrate the Australia Girmit foundation fourth Girmit anniversary celebrations, indeed humbles us as a family. In fact, most of the credit must be afforded to most or all of you who have been with us since our inaugural event in 2021.
Even the ruthless pandemic era did not dampen all our resolve to still meet in May and commemorate such worthy sacrifice that altered the globe’s economic, political, social landscape then, now and for ever.
Their dreams were not in vain at all for they were people of faith. While crossing the wide-open ocean they yearned and cried in prayer to the God and gods they worship. Majority were Hindus, some Muslim and very few Christians.
Standing on the deck of those Girmit sailing ships watching the night skies with glittering stars during those open sea journey, our forebearers must have in deep prayer yearned for home, motherland India. At the end of a back-breaking labour of the 7 days working week must have been draining in all sense of the word. Night would have been spent thinking and wishing for better tomorrows for them and later their toddlers innocently enjoying the humble mud floor hut or overcrowded barracks.
Ladies and gentlemen, from the cloudy dust of uncertainty and tyranny our people rose with dignity, rose from near slavery to liberty. Over the decades, out of the loins of Girmityas, were born the remnants of the blessings of our forebears, producing leaders and pioneers in many fields, even as Prime Ministers.
We have indeed come a long way as a people grouping. We the proud Girmityas descendant will continue to sail on in whatever through God’s providence will bring our way.
Later in tonight’s program our Chief Guest, His Worship Councillor Jon Raven, Mayor of Logan City, has been invited to inaugurate the Global Indian TV. This online TV channel is part of the JD Media Group’s tripartite cross-media group with the Australian Indian Radio and tabloid, Brisbane Indian Times.
To conclude, as I mentioned many of life events are through God’s providence, as this time last year we would have laughed it off if someone taunted that in 12 months’ time, we would be blessed owners of these 3 cross-media entities.
Would have been less stressful to comfortably stay in our Real Estate and Electrical Business and return home every day and enjoy each other’s company.
However, the sweat and blood sacrifice of our forebears Girmityas and the platform of courage and firm foundations of life they built should not and must not be chucked away to the back burners of life.
The Fiji Girmit Foundation Australia, Deo Family Charitable Foundation, and the JD Media cross-media group will climb any mountain, cross any valley and sail any seas or whatever it takes to keep the Girmit legacy alive!
That is our lifetime commitment, and we thank each of you who would take that journey with us.
Vinaka Vakalevu, Dhanyavaad.

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Mrs Raj Kumari Pratap
Mrs Raj Kumari PratapRaj Kumari worked in the CWM hospital for 25 years. She spent 5 years in general nursing and another 20 as the sister in charge of the Eye Department, famously being known as Sister Raj in Fiji. To achieve her ambition to be a nurse and help people, she had to leave her home in Nausori and go to the Western side of Fiji to study. During her years studying, she was part of the girls guide. She went to the villages of Fiji and assisted in looking after the elderly. She showered them and cleaned their wounds, with the limited resources they had. As a nurse she helped people not only those on mainland Fiji but also those on the outer islands.

Mr Rup Narain
Mr Rup Narain BEMRup Narain, hailing from humble beginnings, dedicated himself to advancing rural communities. Serving as an advisory councilor from 1972 to 1998 in Fiji, he tackled community issues and advocated for vital infrastructure like a bridge for village access. Recognized for his service, he received the BEM medal from the Queen in 1991 and a medal from the Fiji Government for his educational and social leadership. As a Head Master, he uplifted various schools, including rural ones. He volunteered on multiple boards, including the hospital and drainage boards, demonstrating compassion and dedication without seeking personal gain, leaving a lasting impact on the communities he served.

Mrs Kushla Sahai
Mrs Kushla SahaiKushla Sahai’s teaching journey began in Fiji in 1965, where she infused culture and language education through festivals and cultural events. Beyond teaching, she engaged in community activities, mentoring girls as a Girls Guides leader and managing a netball team in Raki Raki District. Upon moving to Brisbane, she became a teacher aide at Logan Reserve State School, introducing Indian culture and fundraising. Over a decade, she taught Hindi at Rochedale High School, while serving as Ekta Women’s Group president for 15 years. Despite challenges as a migrant, she seamlessly integrated Indian language into the Australian environment, juggling a full-time job, raising three children, and fulfilling family duties.

Mr Sadhu Prasad
Mr Mrs Raj Kumari PratapSadhu Prasad, born in Korotari Labasa in 1937, began his career as a licensed teacher in 1954 before joining the family business in 1955. He established Nabouwalu Supermarket in Vanua Levu in 1960. A key figure in soccer, he served in various capacities in the Labasa Soccer Association from 1960 to 1984, earning the title “Father of Soccer” in the north. He contributed significantly to Fiji Football Association, organising the Girmit tournament in 1979. In Labasa Jaycee’s organisation, he served as president for 15 years and initiated various community projects. Migrating to Brisbane in 2000, he remained active in community organisation’s, earning recognition for his voluntary service, including a Paul Harris Fellow Award in 2007. He is also a life member of the Fiji Senior Citizens Association.

Mr Krishna Datt Mishra
Krishna Datt Mishra is a retired Superintendent of Police. He migrated to Melbourne in early 1990’s. He worked for AMP as an insurance representative where he gained immense success and respect within our communities.
During retirement he was the President of Shree Sanatan Dharam Sabha of Victoria for a few years, however continued as a valuable board member serving the community. He relocated to Brisbane in 2004 and has been as active member within the Indian Seniors. Age is just a number when it comes to Krishna’s hobbies especially enjoying staying active and updated with sports globally since he was the Manager for Ba Soccer Club in Ba, Fiji in the 70’s.

Mr Rajendra Prasad
Rajendra PrasadRajendra Prasad, a dedicated school manager, enhanced learning environments at Korovuto Primary and High school in Fiji. His efforts in infrastructure development improved transportation, easing access to schools, hospitals, and towns. Establishing a postal agency in Nacovi facilitated communication for local residents. In Brisbane, he pioneered the Indian Senior Citizen Association and supported the Ekta Women’s Group. As president, he prioritised social, emotional, and mental health support for Indian seniors, fostering connections through local bowls clubs. Amid challenges including legal intricacies and health issues, he navigated language barriers, demonstrating resilience in his commitment to community service and welfare.

Mr Karan Singh
Karan SinghKaran Singh, a Fiji School of Medicine graduate, served as Chief Pharmacist at Colonial War Memorial Hospital (CWM) in Suva from 1981. Prior to this, he worked at various hospitals in Fiji. Upon migrating to Australia in 1988, he contributed to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, and later Queensland Health in Brisbane until retirement. Notably, during Fiji’s 1st coup, he provided essential medical support, being on call day and night, marked with a Red Cross sign. Despite family concerns, he prioritised patient care, symbolised by his blue-armband and ambulance journeys, demonstrating dedication to public health and humanitarian service.

Mr Ahmad Hussain
Mr Dean MohammedAhmad Hussain, along with his brothers, established Tebara Meat Company in Fiji before migrating to Australia in 1986. He played a significant role in the establishment and leadership of mosques in both countries. Serving as a police officer in Fiji for five years, he later became the first president of Darra Islamic Society Mosque in Brisbane, a position he held for a decade. During his tenure, he acquired a new site for the mosque in Oxley. Beyond presidency, he remained actively engaged in fostering community spirit, promoting dialogue among religious groups, and nurturing a welcoming environment at the mosque, epitomizing his dedication to spiritual and social welfare.

Mr Sangeet M. Chand
Mr Sangeet M. ChandSangeet boasts 51 years of medical service, including 30 at PA Hospital, 20 in Fiji, and 1 in New Zealand. Amidst the pandemic at 68, he continued working, demonstrating exceptional dedication beyond retirement age. Passionate about his Girmit ancestry, he organised numerous Girmit events and the first Girmit soccer in QLD, revitalising the Fiji Indian community post-coup. He co-founded the Brisbane BA Sports and Social Club, served as vice president, and helped establish the QLD Fiji Football Association. Sangeet’s cultural contributions extend to Hindu and Sanatan associations, charity work, pastoral care, and advocacy for cultural leave, making him worthy of national recognition.

Dr Raghwa Sharma
Associate Professor Raghwa Sharma, based in Sydney, is a chief Gynaecological Pathologist at Westmead Hospital, specializing in Cytopathology, Sarcoma, and Melanoma diagnostics. With over 15 years of experience, he supervises registrars and has served as acting Director for over 3 years. He’s a vital member of the Research Advisory Committee for ANZGOG and chairs the RCPA Pathology Outreach Educational Committee. Dr. Sharma is instrumental in postgraduate pathology training in South Pacific Island countries and serves as an examiner for FRANZCR. Beyond medicine, he delves into holistic studies, including Vedic, Hindu, and yogic knowledge, advocating for integrative medicine and sharing spiritual insights.

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