Caption: Children of Lewa SDA Primary School enjoying their time at the 2013 Nadarivatu Government Roadshow. Photo: MINFO.
The approach taken by Government to reach out to rural and isolated communities has received positive responses as the two-day Nadarivatu road show comes to an end.
What started out as a “trial” to look at the need for Government to deepen its presence in isolated communities has received an overwhelming response and support not just from the community, but by Government agencies and various business houses.
For 74 year old Ratu Tevita Railave, a high Chief of Navai village, he said that this roadshow is a “blessing for many who cannot afford to travel to urban centres to access the most basic of government information services and resources”. As the Turaga na Tui Nasoqo of Navai, Ratu Tevita takes seriously the needs of his community and villagers – something he admits is difficult to provide given the geographical isolation of his village.
“I never imagined that this would happen; that the Government would come to us. I’m glad that through this government, important state services once inaccessible to us is now here”, he said.
The government roadshow aims to bridge the gap between the information and services available to the public and government itself. This initiative allows agencies to “bring their services to the people” which includes the most basic of services and assistance such as the pension assistance, social welfare assistance, education assistance, birth and registry services, library services, health assistance and various other services and assistance.
For Ratu Railave, the visit by officials from Government and in particular the Ministry of Social Welfare has enabled him and his peers from the community to access the pension assistance; a first for many in his village who not only have any forms of income or fall under any pension schemes. And for the first time, the young villagers and children of his village are accessing information on various educational assistance that can be provided including assistance for tertiary and vocational studies.
The Ministry of Social Welfare’s officer for the Tavua district Mr Samuela Waqairamasi said that in one day alone, they received over 110 applications from communities for various social welfare assistance. This included young mothers and families who have no forms of income.
“In the last two days of these roadshow, we have had an overwhelming response from the communities who come all the way from the four provinces of Naitasiri, Ba, Navosa/Nadroga and Ra. These are mainly rural communities that live in the upper hills of these provinces”, Mr Waqairamasi said.
“I’m thankful that the Government is allowing us to take our services to these communities; to Fijians who need assistance but who can’t because they have to travel far and have to sacrifice a lot to travel to urban centres; I am glad to be here and to tell these people that we can help them”.
For thirty seven year old Selina Seyau of Rewasau village, the roadshow is a “blessing for her” and for her five children who she took along to the show.
“Personally for me, I had some issues with birth registration for my children and one in particular had some details to be corrected with the iTaukei Lands Commission records. I can’t afford to travel to the city or to nearby towns – to look for ways for Government to help me and my children. This is the first time and there are so many things here that can help me and my family and I’m so grateful that everything is here, in one location”, she said.
“It is a chance of a lifetime for most of us, who cannot make it to the city to be able to access these services,” she said.
The Ministry of Itaukei Affairs also generated a large interest from the public because of the services offered including scholarship assistance.
Other agencies that provided services include FRCA with their new joint identity cards, LTA with their driver license registration, FDB and BSP, Vodafone and Fiji National Universities.