‘Children not ready for school’

Wainikavula settlement headman Rusiate Valeusa, 37, (left) with his daughter Meri Vinaka, 5, Litiana Rokowati, 10, Talei Rosi, 5, his wife Kalesi Wati and their fi ve-month old Repeka Esra. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

Our children are not ready to return to school because we have lost everything.

These were the words from Wainikavula Settlement headman Rusiate Valeusa.

He said the tornado-like windstorm which tore a trail of destruction through the rural community took everything they owned with it.

“If you move around our village and ask the parents, they do not have books, bags, sandals or stationery,” the 37-year-old said.

“And whatever money they had is all gone because many have lost jobs due to COVID-19.

“Their main priority is feeding their family every day, providing diapers and milk for babies and trying to rebuild their homes.

“Sending children to school is going to be very difficult because of the challenges we are facing right now.

“As you can see, we are still living in tents.”

Mr Valeusa said they were grateful for food rations provided by Government, individuals, businesses and the Catholic and Methodist churches.

“We are also very grateful to the people of Matacaucau Village who came and cleaned up after the storm hit us and the help they provided us in trying to rebuild our homes.

“We also want to thank the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and Fiji Council of Social Services for providing clothes and assisting us,” he added.

Questions sent to the Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation on the plight of children in Wainikavula remained unanswered when this edition went to press.

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