Shine A Light

Shine A Light: Life Behind Suva Streets

Many of us take things for granted. Instead of being thankful for everyday chances to relish the successes of life, we often ask why life is hard or unfair.
01 May 2023 10:44
Shine A Light: Life Behind Suva Streets
An 18-year-old is among those living on the streets of Suva. He is pictured at his home on April 26, 2023. Photo: Ivamere Nataro

Many of us take things for granted. Instead of being thankful for everyday chances to relish the successes of life, we often ask why life is hard or unfair.

The painstaking truth is that most people are not so fortunate nor have the luxury to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

This week we took a ride down to a few settlements along the Suva – Nausori corridor to talk to families of children living on the streets of Suva.

It wasn’t difficult to distinguish these children from those around them.

As the day breaks, they look for breakfast, standing in front of the restaurant along the Suva Handicraft Centre — a popular spot to find them during the day or night.


With an empty stomach, a few of these children agreed to a ride to their homes, which was almost unbearable.

They could care less about bathing or changing their clothes, because for them, survival on the streets is important.

The living conditions of these children were almost similar, all were from poor socio-economic backgrounds.

The first settlement we stopped at was about 15 minutes from Suva.

A partially gravel and dusty road leads you to Nabuluvatu settlement in Kubukawa, populated by low- and middle-income earners.

A few minutes’ walk from the closest driveway, we found ourselves at the home of two brothers, who also call the streets of Suva their home.

The corrugated iron home looked as if it had been abandoned a long time ago. Extra caution was essential when entering because of the missing wooden floors.

There was almost no eating space, as the inside was also used for sleeping.

A mattress, pillow, blanket, a few plates, and cups lay scattered on the floor, and a kerosene stove greeting you as you enter.

There was no source of electricity. The only source of light at night was the candle, and the sunlight seeping through the two small wooden windows.

The house was built by their father. For their mother, Makereta Ranadi, it is more a house of pain than a home.

It was where the mother of six had endure struggles, pain, and torture from her husband.

It was where she remembered being stabbed three times – on the neck, hand, and thigh. And on two occasions, she was admitted to hospital.

Ms Ranadi believes it was what she had encountered with her husband that drove her sons to town.



Ms Ranadi got married at the age of 15. She was a victim of extreme domestic violence.

After giving birth to her two eldest children, she left her husband for five years.

Thinking that he was a changed man, she accepted him back in 2000, and gave birth to her four younger children.

But nothing changed. Even with 10 grandchildren, she was still beaten up by her husband.

“I endured the pain and suffering for so long, until I told myself that I needed to think of my children,” she said.

“I was stabbed three times with a fork, on my hand, neck and thigh, I was admitted twice in hospital, that’s the extent of his jealousy.”

Ms Ranadi was the mother, housewife and breadwinner for her family. She dives for freshwater mussels and sells them just to provide for her children.

Her husband carried out some casual construction work and would sell pineapples around Suva.

While speaking to Ms Ranadi, it was obvious that life was a constant struggle.

After leaving her husband, she now found a job as a security guard.

Makereta Ranadi. Photo: Ivamere Nataro


Her two sons, daughter and granddaughter live with Ms Ranadi and her new partner.

Life is a bit easy with a better home to come to every day.

Her three older children are all married and have moved out.

But the same cannot be said for her younger children. They are bombarded with emotional and mental affliction most of the time.

At a young age, they are told to look for employment because they have dropped out of school, the youngest when he was only in Year 8.

He is now 15.

“I always feel that because of their step father’s actions towards them, always mistreating them, and speaking harsh words to them, that has caused them to behave as such, and drop out of school,” Ms Ranadi said.

“He wants them to be good, but it’s the word he uses that is demoralizing.”



Ms Ranadi said it was never her intention for her sons to roam the streets of Suva.

Their home in Lami is situated in a place where there is to be no drinking and fighting or they would be told to vacate the land.

It was because of activities that they were involved in that they were told to leave Lami.

“I told them to go and live in our house in Nabuluvatu, and I would support them every week with groceries.”

Ms Ranadi said she was now looking for a place to rent so that she could bring her children together.



Ana Koi had left her husband in 2012. She is now remarried and lives with her partner, who manages a farm, in Vanua Levu.

Her fourth youngest son, 18, is one those living on the streets.

Her partner was one of the employees who was made redundant during the COVID-19 period.

They used to live in New Town with their family. They shared their home with her younger sister and her family.

“Adriu stayed with us, we supported his education from primary school until secondary school,” Ms Koi said.

“We showed him the love that he deserved. But his peers tend to have an immense influence on him and his decisions.

“He gets disciplined at home, he was with us at home during Christmas and New Year. I am now hearing that he is sleeping in town, and I think of him a lot.”

Ms Koi said her son started following his peers in Year 9. It worries Ms Koi that her son is involved with children who are addicted to drugs, meth, and smoking.



Ms Koi loves all her six children. She reminds them of the need to remain at home no matter how hard life gets.

“There’s only so much we can do, because they have their rights as well,” she said.

“There’s nothing else I can do, because I tried to talk to him, discipline him, and now I am hearing that he is sleeping in town.”

After dropping out of school, he started working in a car wash business.

He and his siblings were never close to their father, who has remarried and moved to the West. They were never supported by their father.

“I tell him to go cultivate the land in the village in Ra, but he is just used to having me around. I am trying to get him to come to Labasa,” Ms Koi said.

In the meantime, he stays with his brother and sister. Ms Koi is hoping that her son could be provided some form of counselling.

“I want him to be given something to do, like a community service somewhere so that he can upskill himself and occupy his time rather than being in Suva.”

Ms Koi loves all her six children. She reminds them of the need to remain at home no matter how hard life gets.



Profiling data collected by the Totogo Police Station Operation Team last year indicated that there were a total of 26 children living onthe streets of Suva.

These children were between the ages of 11 and 18. They were from almost the 14 provinces in Fiji and lived within the Suva – Nausori corridor.

But this number seems to have increased recently, a Police source said.

At one point, the Social Welfare Department and the Police had worked together to take all the street children home.

But they still find a way to return to Suva.

“The excuse is they are not loved by their parents or stepfather, but it’s just that they just don’t listen.

“They have also misinterpreted their rights as children, that they think what they are doing is right.”


The Police source said they were trying to stop groups from providing meals for these children.

“We need to stop that, because by doing that, everything is free for them, clothes, food.

“Every morning they are provided breakfast and then they ask for money to buy glue or marijuana. 100 per cent of the time when we check them, there’s always a tin of glue.”

The Police source said some of these children were peddling drugs too. When they were caught doing this, they are taken to the Boys Centre.

But they have changed this method because they didn’t want to instill criminal minds into these children.

Instead, they are stripped off what they have and are chased away.


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