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Beggars Profiling In Sugar City

The profiling of street dwellers and beggars by the Interagency Taskforce on Beggars led by the Ministry of Social Welfare has reached Lautoka this week. ‘Operation Beggar Beat’ comprising social
20 Sep 2014 08:15
Beggars Profiling In Sugar City
Maria Tamotubiu (circled) is the woman behind the success of the Macuata women’s rugby team.

The profiling of street dwellers and beggars by the Interagency Taskforce on Beggars led by the Ministry of Social Welfare has reached Lautoka this week.

‘Operation Beggar Beat’ comprising social welfare officers and the Police are carrying out a thorough profiling exercise of street dwellers in sugar city.

The Permanent Secretary for Social Welfare and taskforce chairperson Dr Josefa Koroivueta explained the reason behind the exercise.

“The ministry has teamed up with Fiji Police, Ministry of Health, St Giles, Ministry of Local Government, municipal councils and Ministry of iTaukei Affairs to undertake Operations Beggar Beat which is producing positive results.

“The team carried out this operation during the Hibiscus Festival in Suva last month and similar operations are currently ongoing in Lautoka. Interviews and home visits are done to gather information on the beggar’s family background, financial status and skills or interest that beggars have which can be developed through vocational training and economic opportunities. The data collected will be valuable to map the way forward in providing best solutions to the challenges faced by the individuals,” Dr Koroivueta said.

Altogether 70 cases have been recorded into the ministry’s database for street dwellers and beggars around Fiji.

“The Government has taken a collaborative approach to address the plight of beggars by identifying the root determinants to begging. This approach has addressed the 10-year plight of a begging and homeless couple in Suva, who have been assisted by the ministry to secure shelter at HART home. This is a new beginning for them because it takes care of their needs.

“We found that approximately 60 per cent of the total 70 beggars profiled are social welfare recipients whilst some are generational beggars. Some are mobile meaning that they move from other city to city; they only come to Suva during festive seasons. Some even use children to get the sympathy of the public and the ministry has placed zero-tolerance on child begging.

“The Government has also partnered with the Church of Nazarene to build a new rehabilitation institution that would cater for 10 to 15 beggars in the first phase and another 15 in phase two. This is a logical and humanitarian-based strategy to move people into workfare and liberate people out of a freeloading lifestyle and life of hopelessness,” Dr Koroivueta explained.

The new institution that is currently under construction at Colo-i-Suva is built with the $100,000 given by the Government.

“The institution will assist those beggars who are mentally challenged, homeless, by providing them with basic care needs and medical care. It will also open up opportunities for skills development and provide incentives for independent livelihood.  The ministry will capitalise on its Welfare Graduation Programme (that has budgetary allocation of $500,000) to empower able-bodied individuals into workfare.

“The ministry has already stepped into this new direction; capital grants have been provided to two of the beggars in the Central Division who are now earning income through operating their income- generating projects. The ministry has also visited 13 organisations to address this issue in partnership with faith-based organisations and non-governmental organisations. Begging represents a changing social landscape and it surely needs a holistic approach to seek the right solutions.

“The Profiling exercise reveals that some of the beggars are financially capable of looking after their families-one of the beggars in Suva owns a house and has a flat on rent and another beggar hires labourers to work on his farm,” Dr Koroivueta said.

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