BY ALEX DADAMU
SOLOMON Islands has seen many benefits and success stories of individuals who joined the Recognized Seasonal Employer Scheme since the country officially joined in 2008 and formally signed the Inter-agency understanding in August 2010.
Lakera Vaghi’s Recognized Seasonal Employer Scheme (RSE) journey began some years back when he started work planting, harvesting and packing at a vegetable farm in Australia.
Thrust into a new lifestyle away from his family and close friends, Mr. Vaghi who hails from Ysabel and Western Province remembered feeling homesick for a short time before quickly developing close friendships with local co-workers, the family of the farm owner and Australian fruit pickers.
“I was far away from home and what motivates me most was thinking that after all the jobs are finished, I will be going back home with funds to help support my family, community, and village in whatever unfinished projects,” Vaghi said.
Mr. Vaghi learned everything he was taught at the farm on how to save his earnings when he returned home.
He revealed that he had achieved a lot and that he used his earnings to pay for school fees of his children, completed his house in Honiara, which has been left uncompleted for many years, and also supported a new school project with funds at his home village of Hovi in the Tatamba district, Ysabel province.
“I returned home with about AUD 5000 with is equivalent to about $27, 500 SBD and I am really happy to have helped my community and family.
“My family and Community can count on me again on this trip to New Zealand because I intend to work hard and earn as much as possible to be able to at least help some people in whatever little means,” Vaghi expressed.
Mr. Vaghi revealed he is looking to make use of another great opportunity to work hard and to save his earnings to start a business to support his family and also help support his community in any upcoming projects.
“I have to make use of the opportunity given to me a second time to be part of an energetic group of individuals whose main intentions and purpose of working hard and be good ambassadors for the country will link everyone together as a family in a land far from home,” Vaghi said.
Vaghi, however, expressed that the scheme is beneficial to the economy with regards to remittance being sent or brought into the economy.
He urged the government to put some focused commitments and take new approaches to increase the number of local workers sent to overseas farms monthly and annually.
“I know the government through the responsible Ministry and responsible Authorities have done a lot with regards to RSE, which I commend them, but I want to appeal to the present-day government and responsible authorities to look at ways to send more local workers as the other Pacific countries have done.
“This will greatly increase our livelihood standard plus it will empower citizens to freely explore ways in which they can be able to start a business to support themselves,” Vaghi said.
Lakera Vaghi encouraged first-timers who will be traveling with the group to work hard and do not waste time and money on unimportant kinds of stuff.
“Do not fall into the same mistakes others do in misusing money, which only can result in coming back home empty-handed,” Lakera made the cautionary advice.
The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme is often described as a triple win, benefitting workers, their home countries, and addressing labor shortages in New Zealand and Australia.
RSE is the labor scheme that oversees workers from the Pacific come to New Zealand for several months to work in horticulture or viticulture when there are not enough local workers.
Vaghi’s story has demonstrated the spirit of RSE, showing what is possible to achieve through the scheme and the positive impact it can have on other locals who want to join.
Lakera Vaghi was part of a group of 19 Solomon Islanders who will be working under Pick Hawk’s Bay Company in the Hastings District, New Zealand, harvesting Blueberries.
The group will spend for Seven (7) Months in New Zealand only returning to the country in September.