Leaving no one behind

Some of our citizens still live in abject poverty on a daily basis with no hope for a better future. Picture: SUPPLIED

Bula readers! I was interested in reading about the Government announcement informing us that poverty is reducing in Fiji, which is great news if this is correct.

Unfortunately, when I go on my daily excursions in and around Suva City and along the Nausori-Suva corridor it does seem to me poverty levels may have increased and in my personal assessment increased by a considerable amount.

Every time I walk anywhere nowadays it seems to me that there are people desperate for help.

There is an increase in begging and also from small innocent children trying to sell cakes and bananas etc, to the elderly who have nothing, but the clothes on their back.

There are increasing cases of people living on the streets and individuals reaching out for assistance for food and shelter and any kind of help in general.

I am not seeing this rosy picture of claims that we are coming out of poverty. What I am seeing unfortunately is people getting more desperate and more vulnerable as food prices shoot up.

The cost of basic food items like bread are on the increase, bus fares are on the increase in fact all items are on the increase across the board.

Even when you go shopping you would be lucky to be able to fill your trolley with basic food items for your family for less than a few hundred dollars.

The other day I witnessed a mother with two small children at the supermarket counter, who only bought one small tin of fish.

I asked her was that her dinner and she informed me that is all she could afford for the family of three. I was compelled to step in and supply her with adequate provisions for the family.

This is a worry and cases like this keep me up at night thinking what more I can do to help as we are now witnessing abject poverty on a huge scale and it seems to be growing. For those in a comfortable position and able to have the luxury of free vehicles, free security and free housing etc it is fine.

This is certainly not a criticism, but the reality of how the elite are able to continue to live and continue to enjoy a lavish lifestyle, while the majority of the population continue to struggle so desperately to make ends meet and also put food on the table for their families and pay rent.

If I am wrong I am more than happy to be corrected, but from where I am standing and from what I can see it looks like the rosy and happy picture portrayed just isn’t the reality on the ground.

I would like to go one step further and say from what I can see especially in low social economic areas the situation unfortunately isn’t getting any better in fact it may possibly be getting worse.

As break ins and home invasions continue to be on the rise, I am seeing muggings and theft of purses in broad daylight becoming a real problem.

In fact, two people I know very well have been subject to purse snatching and one even had her car door opened at a red light and the perpetrator tried to snatch and run with her bag.

This is concerning and a growing problem. We don’t want to go down the road of some counties where we are afraid to wear jewelry or afraid in case our purses are snatched when we are in public. We need to urgently reverse this problematic cycle and begin to foster a loving society where people respect each other before it is to late.

The rosy picture of we are all fine and happy is not what I am seeing, as day by day the serious issue of poverty and unemployment levels has to be addressed urgently. It will take a unified effort to begin to get these levels under control.

This is a very serious issue and it is very concerning indeed. The authorities need to be advised, please don’t shoot the messenger as you always attempt to do, but for once sit down
and assess the huge shortcomings and address the dire situation as different and varying reports of 30 per cent, 40 per cent and even 50 per cent poverty levels in some areas of our beloved nation is no joke.

The fancy speeches, the personal attracts on members of the pubic, the constant reminders that all is good are not working anymore.

What needs to be done is a complete overhaul of the government system, where first and foremost is to acknowledge that we have a huge problem and the famous government slogan “Leaving No One Behind” really sums up what is so wrong today, as the reality is most people are being left behind in poverty.

We have unemployment, mass poverty, inadequate health facilities, lack of education resources, pot holed roads, crumbling infrastructure, lack of security, no constant access to water and electricity all these areas are a real worry, and the list goes on.

Finally, I so desperately want to address our people and tell them all is fine and wonderful, but now a lot of our citizens are pleading for a better future, with food prices rising, bus fares rising, the cost of living rising, crime on the increase, drugs on the increase, violence in general on the increase.

Maybe it’s finally time for less talk and more action and to step up and start helping those that need assistance so desperately.

  • AJAY BHAI AMRIT is a founding member of The Peoples Alliance party and is also a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are his and does not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.

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