NATION

Providing Hope For The Exploited

  Homes of Hope was first formed 20 years ago in 1996 in Fiji. It has since become a very important cornerstone of help for young women and children who
25 Dec 2016 11:00
Providing Hope For The Exploited
AJAY BHAI AMRIT

 

Homes of Hope was first formed 20 years ago in 1996 in Fiji.

It has since become a very important cornerstone of help for young women and children who are victims and vulnerable to sexual exploitation, child sexual abuse and violence.

The unsung heroes of this organisation who have been working tirelessly for the last 20 years and giving hope to those in the community when they thought all hope was lost are Pastor Mark Roche and his wife Lynnie Roche.

These two individuals with the help of their hardworking staff and volunteers have given the most vulnerable in our society a fresh start and hope which in turn leads to dignity and freedom for the victims to lead a normal and rewarding life beyond the abuse they were once entrapped in.

They have managed this through direct care at their residential campus and also through community programmes that educate and free individuals from their surroundings and empower them. The ultimate goal of the organisation is to one day have a culture in Fiji where sexual crimes are a thing of the past.

Earlier this year in celebration of the 20-year milestone for the organisation, they arranged a Gala fundraising dinner which was a great success and highlighted the great work that has been done over the years.

I visited Pastor Mark and his wife recently to get a more in-depth view into what they were doing and how they help the vulnerable in our society and was very impressed to say the least. In the 20 years since they set up Homes of Hope the couple have gone from serving and counseling a single mother and her baby to helping hundreds of women and their families.

Homes of Hope has helped provide hope and a future for these women by offering counseling, teaching them how to parent their children and ensuring they have the necessary life skills and finance to flourish after leaving the programme. They also work throughout Fiji, advocating on behalf of women and children, helping set up safety nets in at-risk communities to stop others from entering the destructive cycle of sexual exploitation.

Homes of Hope also operate self sustaining projects such as harvesting eggs for sale to the public and also run a bakery which makes the best banana cake in town. They have a stall at the Roc Market in Suva where they sell farm fresh eggs, cushion covers, lemon and eggplant jam and handmade jewelry which all help towards the day to day running of the centre.

On campus they operate a nursery and preschool, ensuring that the children and mothers have a safe place to learn and grow. It is imperative that the children are educated with strong values and are shown great love which in turn gives them a good start in life.

I do realise this topic can be quite sensitive and many people would like to just ignore it and brush it under the carpet. The reality of the situation is that sex trafficking and also sexual exploitation of women and minors is on the increase globally and has to be addressed whether we like it or not.

Pastor Mark and Lynnie have taken that challenge for the last 20 years and more importantly have taken action which has been both mentally and physically very taxing for them both.

It has been through their deep rooted faith and determination that has enabled them to walk this tough and long journey which has ultimately led to saving so many of the most vulnerable in our society.

The definition of hero is an overused word in today’s age but I am sure you will agree after 20 years of selfless dedication and compassion that these two individuals can be classed as real heroes.

Edited by Rusiate Mataika

The writer is a Fiji Sun columnist.

Feedback:  ajay@carvingdream.com

 

Fijisun E-edition
Total Excellium
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper