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Loloma Project Caters For City’s Homeless

Loloma Project Caters For City’s Homeless
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Meresaini Vuniwaqa with Permanent Secretary Dr Jiosefa Koroivueta listen to Marika Luvu in Suva on September 2, 2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar
September 03
11:27 2018

It was an emotional and unforgettable Father’s Day for Marika Luvu yesterday.

The 65-year-old was woken by the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa and her team on the streets of Suva.

He was all smiles when he saw Ms Vuniwaqa, Permanent Secretary Josefa Koroivueta and Police officers greeting him and offering him help under the ministry’s Loloma project.

Mr Luvu declined to say how long he had been sleeping rough on the streets of Suva, but could only reveal that his immediate family lived in Lautoka.

While speaking to Ms Vuniwaqa, Mr Luvu said their house was too full so he had been sleeping on the streets.

“Vinaka vakalevu (Thank you so much),” he said.

Under the Loloma project, Ms Vuniwaqa, members of her team and Police officers spent Father’s Day meeting and speaking with homeless people on the streets of Suva.

Ms Vuniwaqa said there were two categories of homeless people in Fiji.

One, she said, had those who were mentally challenged.

 

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa talks with Amelia Sauturaga. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa talks with Amelia Sauturaga. Photo: Ronald Kumar

 

The other group involved those who were homeless for one reason or another and moved away from their families.

“You would have also seen fathers here on the streets, I wonder where their children are,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

“Father’s Day is about them as well.

“As fathers, as husbands, I appeal to all Fijian men to bring back that basic tendency of love, respect and care for your loved ones, your wives and your children.

“To those fathers who are still living with their children, love and take care of your children and love your wives.

“I wish every father in Fiji a very happy and blessed Father’s Day.”

The Loloma project is a programme run by the ministry in partnership with the Fiji Police Force.

It is an attempt to profile homeless people, particularly in the major towns and cities around Fiji.

 

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Mereseini street people Vuniwaqa (pictured left) with a Police officer assisting homeless woman Setaita Qalutaki in Suva on September 2, 2018. Ms Vuniwaqa took to the streets with her team and some Police officers to visit homeless people in the capital city. This was part of their work under the Loloma project. The programme coincided with Father’s Day. Photo: Ronald Kumar

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Mereseini street people Vuniwaqa (pictured left) with a Police officer assisting homeless woman Setaita Qalutaki in Suva on September 2, 2018. Ms Vuniwaqa took to the streets with her team and some Police officers to visit homeless people in the capital city. This was part of their work under the Loloma project. The programme coincided with Father’s Day. Photo: Ronald Kumar

 

Ms Vuniwaqa said the main aim of the project was to see how they could as a ministry and as Government help assist those who lived on the streets.

During her visit around Suva’s streets Ms Vuniwaqa came across a teenage girl who had been separated with her one-month-old baby.

The minister was told that a church pastor and his family were caring for the infant while the young mother lived on the streets.

Ms Vuniwaqa said there were cases where some families had a history of living on the streets that started by grandparents, whose children and grandchildren continued to do that.

Whatever the reasons for such cases, she said, there were various options available through initiatives where the ministry could relocate these homeless people.

There are certain non-government organisations and religious bodies that take homeless people in and with the assistance of the ministry and they were in turn given grants.

“The aim of the ministry is to clear the homeless people from the streets and to see the reasons people live on the streets and see how we can assist,” Ms Vuniwaqa said.

 

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Mereseini street people Vuniwaqa took to the streets with her team and some Police officers to visit homeless people in the capital city.

Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare Mereseini street people
Vuniwaqa took to the streets with her team and some Police officers to visit homeless people in the capital city.

 

“Some of these kids are very young people. Some actually run away from the homes and organisation that we put them to.”

She added that the ministry was trying to find out the reasons they keep returning to the streets, the attraction there and the right type of help to offer.

“The Loloma project is here to stay,” she said.

Mrs Vuniwaqa acknowledged the Police and the NGOs for the partnership and success of the ongoing project. It has been going on for years.

After Ms Vuniwaqa’s tour, Suva City’s homeless residents were then taken to the St Giles Hospital for assessments and checks before being billeted at the rehabilitation centre for street beggars at Colo-i-Suva.

The rehab centre, which is being run in partnership with the Nazarene Church, can billet and provide training for 24 persons at any one time.

The ministry and the centre work closely to create new opportunities for skills training and full-time employment for residents.

Meanwhile, religious organisations have expressed their support for measures that helped the homeless.

Shree Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji national president Sarju Prasad said he would welcome and support any organisation which aimed to help the homeless and the less fortunate.

“I will be happy to provide homes for the homeless,” he said.

Mr Prasad said there needed to be an analysis done on those who needed assistance, adding that it was important to feed, clothe and recognise the existence of the less fortunate.

Fiji Muslim League president Hafiz Khan said they offered training at their Makoi Women’s Vocational Training Centre.

Mr Khan said they welcomed all less fortunate women who wanted to attend training and learn some skills to help them start their businesses and earn a living.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

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