Children take up jobs to support families

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An underaged boy provides wheelbarrow services at the Laqere Market in Nasinu. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU/FT FILE

COVID-19 has taken poverty in Fiji to another level, says Foundation for the Education of Needy Children (FENC) in Fiji national co-ordinator Priya Preetika Lata.

She said pre-COVID, an issue of concern for Fiji was child labour and trying to address the problem during the pandemic would be “more challenging”.

Ms Lata said there were a lot of cases where children were looking for work to support their families.

“FENC Fiji understands that it has a fundamental duty of care towards the poor children within its programs. We also agree with the fact of eradicating poverty through better education,” she said.

“FENC Fiji acknowledges its partners, the United Nations (UN) and the Fijian Government for their efforts so far in trying to solve this issue.

“We suggest the implementation of awareness programs around the country — there are organisations who can help with school supplies, clothes, food and shelter and safety and medical conditions.”

Ms Lata said majority of villages, settlements and people in Fiji did not know FENC Fiji existed and that it could be a stepping stone for them to a better future.

She said many child labour cases were linked to survival.

“FENC Fiji does not support child labour. We partnered with few other organisations and did awareness during a walkathon around Viti Levu for 11 days advocating on child abuse, child protection and child labour.”

She added their main challenge was funding to be able to reach out to those who were really in need.

“People who live in the interior of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and also people in the outer islands need assistance to help their children and their family out of poverty.”

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