NEWS

Ministry Mulls Over Help For The Homeless

In an earlier interview the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, highlighted that there were two categories of homeless people in Fiji.
22 Apr 2019 10:00
Ministry Mulls Over Help For The Homeless
A group of homeless people along High Street in Toorak, Suva, on April 19, 2019 . Photo: Ronald Kumar

With homelessness becoming more and more visible in Suva, how do the numbers stack up?

The Fiji Sun has spotted a number of homeless Fijians, including school-age children, on the streets. This is now becoming a serious concern.

In an earlier interview the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Mereseini Vuniwaqa, highlighted that there were two categories of homeless people in Fiji.

One, she said, had those who were mentally challenged and the other group involved those who were homeless for one reason or an- other and moved away from their families.

Government and stakeholders have offered help to shelter the homeless, which includes the Loloma project initiative.

Loloma project is a programme run by the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in partnership with the Fiji Police Force.

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

The main aim of the project is to see how the ministry and Government can help those who live on the streets.

Ms Vuniwaqa said there were cases where some families had the history of living on the streets that started with 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.

Ms Vuniwaqa said the aim of the ministry was to clear the homeless people from the streets, identify the reasons why they chose the streets and see how they could be helped.

She also highlighted that some people ran away from the homes and organisations that they were taken to and 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.

Rehabilitation centre

Under the Loloma project, the homeless are taken to the St Giles Psychiatric 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.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: selita.bolanavanua@fijisun. com.fj

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