The Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation is exploring new ways to assist the mentally challenged and homeless beggars on the streets.
The Minister Hon. Rosy Akbar says that with increased collaborations with the Ministry of Health, Fiji Police, Ministry of Local Government, the issue will be addressed collaboratively.
“Currently, we are in the process of liaising with Ministry of Health to identify solutions for the mentally challenged and homeless beggars. Through profiling exercise, we have seen there is an increase in the number of mentally challenged beggars, and the first solution to address this problem is to strengthen family values. The Ministry is appealing to the public to show more compassion and care towards their family members who are mentally challenged.
“The Ministry is concerned with the plight of the mentally challenged and last week, we have visited few such cases, where the mentally challenged were receiving medical treatment however, there is no trace of their families. We will also look at ways in which these people can be given the special medical care they need,” Minister Akbar said.
The Ministry is also working with municipal councils to identify able-bodied beggars who will be assisted through the income generating and livelihood programs.
“We are working with the relevant agencies like Ministry of Local Government, town councils to conduct beggar profiling in Lautoka and Nadi. We will identify able bodied women who will be assisted through the market vendor project, just like the three women who now operate market stalls at Suva market. As for the bodied men we had identified 5 of them from Lautoka, only 2 are now trained at the Rehabilitation Centre. We will be following up with other 3 to look at ways to upskill them and help them venture into sustainable livelihood programs.
“The Ministry has received positive feedback from the public, they see that for long the issue of street begging has existed but now it’s thoroughly addressed. We may not be entirely able to eliminate the problem but we aim to make a difference into individual lives. Compassion is the key word for our Ministry to addressing the plight of the disadvantaged and poor,” Minister Akbar emphasized.