VILLAGERS in the highlands of Nadroga-Navosa now have a chance to leave behind a past filled with violence after promising to take a stand against abuse of women and children.
Volivoli Village was the first village declared violence-free by Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni during her tour to the West last week.
"When a community is free from violence, it becomes even more resourceful," she said.
"It also means upbringing of children in an environment that has great value for women and children to be treated with respect in their homes and communities.
"It means developing a community that lives on the principle of being violence-free as the means to foster sustainable development."
Volivoli Women's Group president Kinisimere Tubou said the day would not be easily forgotten since it signified their freedom to break free from violence, which they have endured through the years.
"Following the six months awareness campaigns, there have been positive changes taking place in this community," she said.
"Our conversations with the women reveal that there is change in the attitude of the men. They have started to spend more time with their families unlike before as they spent their time drinking yaqona."
ASP Henry Steele of the Sigatoka Police Station said the village would now be cited as a model for crime-free villages in the Nadroga/Navosa region.