NATION

Youth Group Influences Changes At Natokowaqa: Labalaba

A youth movement in the traditional crime-prone neighbourhood of Natokowaqa in Lautoka has changed the atmosphere in the area. There are now about 100 men and women getting permanent employment since
20 Oct 2017 11:05
Youth Group Influences Changes At Natokowaqa: Labalaba
Sitting L-R President of ‘Providing Young Generation Movement in Every Society’ (PYGMIES), Waisake Saga, Pauliasi Tabakece. Standing L-R Kaliova Bainivalu, Jone Cama and Anare Tokelau who are members of the youth group. PHOTO: KATHRIN KRISHNA.

A youth movement in the traditional crime-prone neighbourhood of Natokowaqa in Lautoka has changed the atmosphere in the area. There are now about 100 men and women getting permanent employment since the group started three years ago.

The group known as ‘Providing Young Generation Movement in Every Socaiety’ (PYGMIES) hasa embarked on a mission to eradicate crime in their community.

aernment assisted group has witnessed the movement changing lives of former criminals into law abiding a.

Mr Labalaba said the group was formed as a youth groaup after Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama advised them to turn away from their life of crime and do something positive in society.

“There are about 60 members in our youth group who are all ex-offenders,” Mr Labalaba said.

“With a directive from the Prime Minister, we are now a registered youth group under the Ministry of Youth and Sports and we attend their workshops and trainings,” he said

“Since then, around 100 men and women have started working and have changed their lives around.”

Natokowaqa was once known for its high crime rate and was a no-go zone after dark for newcomers.

Mr Labalaba said many youths were commenting on social media about Mr Bainimarama and Government not doing their job while his team was travelling in the United States and Canada.

He said the negative posts and comments on Facebook were taken out of context.

He said their youth group was one of the good examples of what Mr Bainimarama’s Government was doing in Fiji.

“It is us, Fijians staying in Fiji who know what this Government has done for us,” Mr Labalaba said.

He said the Natokowaqa area was one of the most dangerous areas in Lautoka where robbery, drugs and street fights were a norm three years ago.

He said the PM’s directives had given them a second chance.

“Our youths are also getting educated and we visit widowers and widows in our area and outside our area and help them with cleaning their houses, compounds and other errands,” he said.

“We are living a completely different life now. Around 40 out of 60 members of our group are now (recently) employed at various business houses, earning a decent living.”

He said the group had been given brush cutters which were now being used to earn money to support their families.

“This has also uplifted our standard of life and we are now concentrating on our community and encouraging students in primary and secondary schools not to offend but have a decent life,” he said.

Most of the youth group members are school dropouts.

Mr Labalaba said that youths needed to stop believing what social media was portraying but instead make right choices and work hand in hand with the Government to bring about positive changes within their respective communities.



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