Since the COVID19 lockdowns hit Suva, Fiji’s capital in 2020, hunger has increased at Nabua Settlement.
Fifty nine year old Aysha Bibi, who has lived 20 years at the Settlement, located on land owned by the Fiji Muslim League said hunger has worsened.
‘Some families here struggle to find food,’ she said.
‘Some now frequent the creek nearby to find fish or look around for dalo and bele leaves they can cut,’ said Ms. Bibi.
‘The most important thing is food.’
‘Some families have left the settlement to go back to their villages where they can plant their own food.’
But many don’t have that luxury. They don’t have any land to plant food on, or leave the settlement behind for.
They have no choice but to stay at the informal settlement, one of several within the city boundaries.
Ms. Bibi said people choose to live at the settlement because they cannot afford housing within the city.
Residents of the settlement, who are from different parts of the country, either build their own lean-to-houses or rent rooms for cheap.
A policy by the local electricity provider means families do not have electricity because their illegal status on the land.
Single mothers and retirees make up the largest number of residents and receive welfare support from the Government.
‘Everyday putting food on the table is difficult,’ Ms Bibi said.
‘Most don’t work or now have reduced hours and work as casual labourers and housemaids.’
‘If it were not for the food donations received from non-government organisations, we don’t know how we would not survive,’ she added.
Ms. Bibi described the support in the form of food, clothes and even hygiene products since COVID19.
The Pacific Theological College’s (PTC) Itulagi Youth Learning and Exchange Network is the latest group to provide food support to the community.
Itulagi Coordinator Rusila Nabouniu from the Institute for Mission and Research of PTC said the Food Drive reflects the community’s needs.
‘Itulagi Youth members identified that food was a great need community needs right now,’ Ms. Nabouniu said.
‘Some families don’t have three proper meals in a day.
‘Children go to school without food.
‘So the need to meet this need right now.’
Itulagi member Vitalina Kunaniu said helping meet the community need gives the Itulagi Youth members are sense of joy.
‘We got emotional when interviewing the people before the Food Drive especially when we saw the struggles they face to find food,’ she said.
The Itulagi Learning Exchange Youth Network coordinated by the Institute for Mission and Research of PTC is a platform for action for young Pacific Islanders passionate about #ChangingTheStory of life and development in the Pacific Islands Region.
The Food Drive will reach out to other communities across Suva.