Rosy Akbar’s Rise From Tough Times

Rosy Sofia Akbar knows only too well the life of poverty. In many ways, being given the portfolio to serve as Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviationwas only befitting
14 Oct 2014 12:15
Rosy Akbar’s Rise From Tough Times
Unit Trust of Fiji Regional General Manager Sakiusa Bolaira.

Rosy Sofia Akbar knows only too well the life of poverty. In many ways, being given the portfolio to serve as Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviationwas only befitting for someone raised by a struggling single parent.

“We were very poor. Life was tough and my brothers and sisters and I grew up without many of the the things that others had. But we had the love and support of our mother, the best thing that any child can have in the whole world.

Her mother, Nazmun Nisha, lives in Ba, Ms Akbar’s home town and she was praised by her daughter in Parliament yesterday.

“My mother always said that getting an education was the right way for us to climb out of poverty. So this was instilled in me from the start.’’

Ms Akbar said: “The problem was that she couldn’t afford the fees to send us to school. We were the classic example of what the Honourable Prime Minister referred to in his speech.

“One of the hundreds of thousands of Fijian families over the years who want something better for their children but have been trapped in a cycle of poverty. You cannot imagine the anxiety my mother suffered worrying about how her five children would get an education. But by a stroke of luck, help was at hand.

“A group of teachers at Xavier College in Ba banded together to pay our school fees. And so we were able to attend classes, all of us. I cannot tell you how deeply we appreciate the generousity and kindness of these wonderful people. It was the leg-up we desperately needed to get ahead in life.

“So today I also want to thank the Montfort Brothers who operate Xavier College and especially Brother Francis, the current principal, who taught me and has had a huge influence on my life.

“Brother Francis has been a wonderful mentor to me, guiding me with advice and assistance at every stage.

“I became the deputy headgirl of Xavier. And I am also extremely proud that my younger daughter Nikhat Khan is currently the head girl at the College.

“Thanks to Brother Francis and the rest of the Montfort family, all of my brothers and sisters managed to do well. One of my sisters is a doctor in Ba, my two brothers are in the medical field in New Zealand and Australia respectively. And I was inspired to become an educator.

“I have taught at a number of schools in Ba, including Ba Sanatan College, DAV College and then A.D Patel College, where I was the Vice Principal before Fijifirst provided me with the opportunity to enter politics.

“Naturally, I share the Prime Minister’s view that the Government’s free schooling policy is its defining achievement. More than anything else, giving more of our young people access to education carries the greatest prospect of breaking the cycle of poverty that is holding so many Fijians back. And I am extremely proud to be living proof of that.”

Ms Akbar also acknowledged her predecessor, Dr Jiko Luveni, now Speaker of the House.

‘’It is my honour to succeed you as Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation. I know I have very big shoes to fill. Because everywhere I go, I become aware of the respect and love in which you are held in the community for your untiring efforts to improve the lives of ordinary people,’’ she said.

As for the way forward, she ruled out ‘stop gaps’ or ‘quick fixes’ for poverty alleviation.

‘’Our underlying philosophy isn’t providing hand-outs so that people go back to being poor when the money runs out. It is about giving leg-ups so that people’s lives can be permanently changed for the better,’’ she said.



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