Six years after birth

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Empower Pacific social worker Adi Selai helps out a couple. Picture: SUPPLIED

Couple’s quest to register their daughter with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages six years after she was born has finally succeeded.

The couple from Nasea, located past Naduri Village in the Macuata Province, was overjoyed that they were assisted by Empower Pacific to get a birth certificate for their daughter.

Their last knock for help was on our doors in February and they were successful in getting their needs addressed.

The little girl’s story dates back to 2017 when she was born.

She was three years old when her biological mother left the family with the birth notification issued by the hospital.

The birth notification is something that is needed when registering the birth of a child.

After being left by her biological mother, her father settled with another woman who played a major role in getting her stepdaughter’s birth registration done.

They walked into the Empower Pacific Labasa office in February this year and our social worker, Adi Selai Ritova, took their case.

Adi Selai said the girl’s father had made efforts to contact her biological mother and get the birth notification from her, for registration purposes p but his at- tempts were in vain.

She said they found it difficult to enrol her in pre-school because she did not have a birth certificate.

“They tried to contact her and so did the Department of Social Welfare but their attempts to do so were futile,” she said.

“However, they were able to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and this enabled the child to attend school while the birth registration issue was in process.”

Adi Selai said the process of getting a birth certificate done coupled with a lack of information on how and what to do in regards to attaining the birth certificate for the child resulted in them having disagreements, disputes an hardships.

It was not until they saw an Empower Pacific advertisement on television one day, regarding the counselling helpline, that they decided to reach out with the hope of finding a solution to their problem.

Adi Selai said it was during an Empower Pacific workshop in May that she learned more about child welfare from two people who spoke on the issue at length.

They were the Child Protection Specialist in the Child Protection Programme at UNICEF Pacific Multi- Country Office and former magistrate, Salote Kaimacuata and Senior Legal Officer at Legal Aid Commission, Sokoveti Dauni- vesi.

“I was quite motivated after the workshop and after talking to them. A knock on the Divisional Registrar Northern’s office doors in June was a solace,” said Adi Selai.

“He made the appointment date himself and assured the couple that he would assist them. The long wait by the couple to register the child’s birth was finally over.

“They were able to register the child under her biological father in June and were issued with the child’s birth certificate, six years after she was born.”

Adi Selai said this was one of her most successful cases so far this year. She pursued the couple’s case because they were running around for the past two years. “I found this case significant because it was a child protection,” Adi Selai said.

“The child was supposed to attend kindergarten but she did not have a birth certificate and her biological mother had made things more complicated instead of in the best interest of the child,” she said.

The girl’s stepmother, whom we shall refer to as client, said, “There was no birth certificate for my child and we were unable to contact her biological mother.”

Considering the distance from their village to Labasa Town and other factors, they also had financial constraints to meet transportation costs while running around to get things done.

“But, now, we have been able to get a birth certificate for my child. And my child is able to attend kindergarten now,” she said.

“We are very grateful to Empower Pacific and Adi Selai for everything that you have done to help us in getting our child’s birth registered six years after she was born,” said the client.

This is one of the unique cases handled by Empower Pacific recently and its successful outcome has put smiles on the faces of the couple, their other children and the little girl herself.

So, do not hesitate to call our toll-free helpline 5626 for counselling or information on the services we provide as an NGO.

• AVINESH GOPAL is Empower Pacific’s media and communications officer based in Lautoka. The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

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