Opinion

Waqetia Deserves A Medal For His Compassion And Love For ‘Street Kids’

At the same time, we need to strengthen the family institution to prevent young people from ending up on our streets. We need to empower parents through training to take responsibility for their children.
17 Feb 2020 13:34
Waqetia Deserves A Medal For His Compassion And Love For ‘Street Kids’
Amani Waqetia.

Opinion:

Amani Waqetia deserves recognition for helping put five “street kids” back in school.

The taxi driver and Salvation Army social worker was inspired by his own personal experience to take the boys under his wings.

It is not the first time that he has done it.

He has been looking after “street kids” since 2010. Mr Waqetia was a “street kid” himself for seven years and changed “after I accepted Jesus Christ.”

So he understands the challenges and hardship “the street kids” go through.

People like Mr Waqetia fill a void in the lives of these young persons. He picked up five but how many are still left out there who need love, nurturing and direction in life?

Many of these young boys come from dysfunctional families where the parents have separated.

Therein lies the heart of the issue about “street kids”. Single mothers are left with the sole responsibility to raise their children. Some of them have done exceptionally well, as we are finding out from prefect inductions and prizegiving ceremonies.

But others have failed and we can’t put all the blame on them. It’s incredibly difficult to raise children without their fathers. Single mothers can testify of this.

While we are grateful to people like Mr Waqetia for their love and compassion, we need to look at the root cause of the problem and fix it. Incidentally, this is not a new problem.

When the family is in chaos, the children are the ones who suffer the most.

We must put the family back where it belongs, at the top of our priority list. That means that everything we do must go through the family filter. If it is good for the family, then we allow it. If it is not, then, we ditch it.

From left: Navitalai Turaganikeli in Year 6, Semi Ledua in Year 6, Jolame Nawaqatabu in Year 8, Ilaija Gaunavou in Year 7 with their class teachers, Makareta Takalaivuna and Lario Nainima, at Davuilevu Methodist School on February 14, 2020. Photos: Ronald Kumar

From left: Navitalai Turaganikeli in Year 6, Semi Ledua in Year 6, Jolame Nawaqatabu in Year 8, Ilaija Gaunavou in Year 7 with their class teachers, Makareta Takalaivuna and Lario Nainima, at Davuilevu Methodist School on February 14, 2020. Photos: Ronald Kumar

Policymakers should use the family filter when they are formulating new policies.

So many policies that the Government has rolled out are family-friendly. But they will only work if the family has the capacity to implement them.

The challenge is to build this capacity for the family. The government cannot do it alone. It requires a collaborative approach involving all stakeholders. They all have a stake in the family. When the family succeeds everyone benefits.

It is heartening to see that the five “street kids” are back at school after spending two years living on the streets of Suva. They will enjoy the free education which lightens the burden for Mr Waqetia who has kindly committed his family to look after them.

Unfortunately, there are other young people out there missing out on education because no one is pointing them in the right direction.

Education is not compulsory so for some it’s an easy way out and no one will hold them accountable.

Our family institutions will strengthen if parents are trained to take responsibility. Who will handle this training?

If we fail to do this then we will need more people like Mr Waqetia who will step in and pick up young people astray on our streets.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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