The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Rosy Akbar today visited the ‘Good Samaritan Inn,”, a rehabilitation centre located in Colo-i-Suva for street dwellers.
The team lead by Minister Akbar along with the Permanent Secretary Dr Josefa Koroivueta and Director Social Welfare Mr Rupeni Fatiaki were briefed on the achievements and challenges faced by the centre. The trainees were also given opportunity to interact with Minister Akbar and discuss their plans to acquire a better living for themselves.
Manager for the Centre, Reverend Taitusi Vaka said that through mentoring and counselling sessions, the men regain their confidence to realize their true potential.
“We have put them into groups and they are occupied with activities like catering and farming. They plant vegetables like cabbage, tomatoes, capsicum, cassava, dalo and green veggies, which are sold to nearby villages and settlements.
“One of the trainee, who used to live here before, has found a job at Motibhai and now he is able to find a place to rent on his own. That is our first success story and we hope that these men will also be able to find similar opportunities to progress in their lives.
“However, changing their mindset is a challenge and the very reason we focus on their personality development while trying to give them a new way to earn their living, rather than begging on the streets,” Rev.Vaka said.
Meanwhile, Minister Akbar has emphasized on the importance of care and compassion, as being the key strategy to foster positive changes in these individuals.
“These men have been through a lot, some of them don’t have any families and this is the only place they regard as their home. There are those who had lived on the streets for years and the centre is a place where they find their strength to begin a new life and to become self-reliant.
“The objective is to help the less fortunate individuals to acquire skills and platforms to earn a sustainable livelihood, without having to beg on the streets. The Centre also instill in them the values of respect, honesty and responsibility, so that they learn to appreciate themselves and those around them.”
“The Ministry also has plans to expand the income generating and livelihood programs provided at this Centre. Particularly in areas of livestock farming and poultry projects,” Minister Akbar elaborated.
Minister Akbar also took a tour around the streets of Suva to meet with the homeless and mentally challenged who were found sleeping on the streets in the early hours of the day. During the tour, the Ministry spotted 14 people who were found taking shelter on the streets in Suva.
The Centre that was officially opened in February this year has been built with the funding of $100,000 by the Fijian Government to provide skills training and economic empowerment opportunities for homeless and less fortunate men, precisely those who have been begging on the streets.
Currently, there are 7 male beggars staying at this Centre who are provided with accommodation and income generating opportunities as part of the rehabilitation program to drive them towards the pathway of self-reliance and decent livelihood.
These trainees were identified by the Ministry through its beggars profiling exercise and most of them have been living on the streets for more than 3 years