THE success that the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) has achieved over the last 10 years is because of the constant attempt to relate to those it sought to serve at their level, their reality and on their terms.
This was highlighted by the Roko Tui Bau Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi while addressing guests and participants at the FRIEND's 10th anniversary celebrations in Tuvu on Tuesday.
"Engaging people in the community requires patience, tact, compassion and a genuine regard for others," Ratu Joni said.
"To be able to look beyond the superficialities of appearance, ethnic background, personality and individual situation, to appreciate the need and having recognised the same, to help in a way that preserves their dignity and self worth," he said.
Ratu Joni said many could take a leaf out of the organisation's book and the successful manner in which it had been able to address issues and empower people of all ethnicities without prejudice.
He said what was particularly impressive was that FRIEND worked in both communities involving iTaukei and Fijians of Indian descent that carried with it the complexities of dealing with the peculiarities and attitudes of each group.
"Sashi Kiran and her co-workers have painstakingly worked to establish trust by entering those domains and listening respectfully to the life stories of those communities. "