3 June, 2023, 9:00 pm
The famous adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ aptly describes the journey of Leith Tabualase Wilson – a young Fijian who scooped the most outstanding soldier award after completing his three months recruitment with the Australian Defence Force.
The former Marist Brothers High School student was awarded the Baird, VC, MG award for being the most outstanding soldier of his platoon.
Originally from Nabulini, Wainibuka in Tailevu, Leith got adopted at the age of two into the family of Ellana Kalounisiga and her renowned local musician husband Knox
The blessings of love and family showered on the young man allowed him to accomplish his dream and steer him to a career path in his adopted home in Australia.
He grew up at their home in Uduya Point and consistently spent time with his namesake and his birth parents, Jolame and Sera, back home in Nabulini. Even though Leith moved to Suva at a tender age, his biological parents were always involved in his life and remain so to this day.
“Leith initially began to explore opportunities within the ADF whilst home schooling as a student of Marist during CO- VID in 2021,” his namesake, Leith shared.
“There was a long process in applying and then testing to see if he met the aptitude test requirements along with physical fitness testing and health checks.
“His Mum, Ellana, took him to numerous face to face interviews and information sessions when they arrived in Australia in late 2021.”
Following his acceptance in December last year, the young man was enlisted on February 7 and underwent a compulsory three-month vigorous training at the ‘home of the soldier’ – Kapooka Army barracks in Wagga Wagga, NSW.
He will now undertake a heavy vehicle diesel mechanic apprenticeship and is interested in further pursuing a mechanical engineering degree under the ADF.
After completing his primary year at Suva’s The Learning Centre, Leith went to Marist until 2021 before later moving to Australia with his mum.
He then attended Hennessy Catholic College in Young, NSW to study for his final years of high school.
He dedicated his most recent achievement to his mum, Ellana, who assisted him in the application processes, listened to his wishes to join the ADF and encouraged him to give it a go.
“I also dedicate it to my Yaca,(namesake) for his ongoing support and encouragement and to also to my whole family who have always encouraged me to dream big and taught me that nothing is impossible if I believe in myself and remain strong in my faith, “ a proud Leith said.
He said he would make both his Fijian family and Australian family proud.
“It took me a while to decide which career path I wanted to take but once I started reading up on all the opportunities within the ADF, I was confident this was the best career path for me.”
With the advanced and numerous opportunities on offer at the ADF, the young soldier looks forward to what the future holds.
“I am blessed to still have a strong connection to Wainibuka and to have my Bubu, Na and Ta and biological siblings supporting and encouraging me all the way.
“My mum and Inoke, Yaca and Suli and my little brothers have always encouraged me to be the best I can be as long as I am always happy and kind.
“My families are very important to me and I know without them and my faith, this wouldn’t have been possible.”
Leith believes his education journey has enabled him to strive for a great future, explore options and make sensible decisions with the choices in front of him.
“If I could advise any student in Fiji on anything it would be this – your education will help open doors when you leave school.
“I am a proud Marist ex-scholar and grateful to my fellow Marist boys who remain close to me and to my teachers who supported me through my time at Marist and TLC.
“Value your education and make it count because it is something nobody can ever take away from you.”