NEWS

Landowner Consents to Use of Land for Atelaite and Sons

“I was on my way to my farm one morning when I saw the mother and her two children sleeping under a rain tree. I felt sorry for them, especially the two children who are both the age of my two young ones. I spoke to the family nearby and asked if they could stay there for a little while.
20 May 2019 12:06
Landowner Consents to Use of Land for Atelaite and Sons
Principal Consultant of Seeland Pacific Fiji Limited Tukai Lagonilakeba (centre), Atelaite Koto (right) with her son and a friend at Togomasi in Nadi on May 19, 2019. Photo: Mereleki Nai

A landowner has come forward to share his story about how he met single mother Atelaite Koto and her two children sleeping under a rain tree.

This newspaper first ran an article about their plight on May 16, 2019. Since then, assistance from Fijians here and abroad has been overwhelming.

Dratabu Village landowner Samisoni Vavudali has agreed that the family can live on the land where they’ve built their shed until they find an alternative.

According to Mr Vavudali, he came across Ms Koto and her two children twice.  He found them sleeping under a rain tree while on his way to attend to his farm.

“I was on my way to my farm one morning when I saw the mother and her two children sleeping under a rain tree. I felt sorry for them, especially the two children who are both the age of my two young ones. I spoke to the family nearby and asked if they could stay there for a little while.

“After a few days I saw their bag of clothes at a nearby field. I met Ms Koto and she told me the situation they had faced and she asked me for a space in the field to build a temporary tent for them. I gave the space where they have now built their temporary shed. When there is a heavy rain, she told me that they used to go to town and sleep at shops corridors.

A landowner Samisoni Vavudali at Dratabu village in Nadi on 19 May, 2019. Photo: Mereleki Nai

A landowner Samisoni Vavudali at Dratabu village in Nadi on 19 May, 2019. Photo: Mereleki Nai

“I am thankful that last week while at my farm, I saw people are coming with food assistance to visit the family. Ms Koto told me that some offer a better house, jobs and education for her children. I am really glad that people are assisting them, especially the welfare of the two children,” he added.

Principal Consultant of Seeland Pacific Fiji Limited Tukai Lagonilakeba was among the many who visited the family yesterday.

He said he preferred spending Sunday visiting the family rather than going to church.

Mr Lagonilakeba visited the family with a bag full of cassava, a kerosene stove and breakfast.

“I believe this is religion and a good service to God rather than going to church on Sunday. I arrived here in the morning, I started cooking some food for their lunch. I believe a good deed goes a long way.

“I think this family is living in inhumane conditions. Many of us take life for granted and here this family has no home, no access to sanitation or clean water,” he said.

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Edited by Rosi Doviverata

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