Take hold of street kids issue

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Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu. Picture: FILE/JONACANI LALAKOBAU

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has called on members of Parliament to take ownership of the issues surrounding street kids and move it in the direction of having the topic discussed at future meetings of the Great Council of Chiefs (GCC).

“I have come across cases in my village of certain delinquents who have been disowned, not so much by their parents but by their respective mataqali,” he said in Parliament yesterday.

“If anything happens, it’s not the parents that is answerable. It’s the mataqali from which that young child hails from.

“And the mataqali has to answer to the village meeting on what are they doing about it because not only has it brought disrepute to the family but more importantly to the extended family — that’s where the vanua comes in.”

Ratu Naiqama echoed the sentiments suggested by Home Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua that “addressing issues surrounding street kids should begin within the August House”.

“Perhaps if this could be taken onboard to be discussed by the GCC in their meetings now.

“Whoever is going to take it from the house to that meeting with the chiefs, we would like to be rest assured in the house that it will be in good hands to see that it’s addressed properly.

“Because if you leave it only with the parents, then for sure the problem will still be there.”

Ratu Naiqama said since Mr Tikoduadua rightly challenged the house, action needed to be taken from there.

“This is for our young children who are roaming the streets.

“I almost ran into some with my driver last night (Monday night). They were sleeping below Nubukalou Bridge. They were probably going across to take their night nap but the way they crossed the street, it’s as if they didn’t care that the vehicle was coming.

“And I asked my driver ‘who are these kids’ and he said these are the homeless ones who live below the bridge.

“I’d like to extend what honourable Ravunawa had stated in his comment. We need to take ownership of this, honourable members, and try and set some things moving in the direction of getting the GCC to discuss this.”

He added that this was not only to be discussed at the GCC meetings, but with interfaith organisations too.

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