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71-year-old mother's daily struggle

Salaseini Moceiwai
Tuesday, June 24, 2014

THE poverty-stricken conditions that she has been living in for the past eight years has Mereani Sega Ucumasi knocking on doors for food.

Having lived in an old two-bedroom wooden house with her two daughters, one of whom is living with mental illness, Ms Ucumasi said it was not easy to explain the hardships she endured daily.

Ms Ucumasi's husband died in 2006 after a short illness.

When The Fiji Times visited her Bulileka home yesterday, she was busy weaving kuta to sell for income.

Begging for root crops and groceries is an activity the 71-year-old said she does almost every day.

She said after her husband's death, they had sought help from neighbours and relatives because they don't have a farm to plant or a source of income.

Ms Ucumasi said being poor was something she did not choose to be.

The situation, she said had made her endure the hardships and struggles in order to provide for her family. Sometimes, she visits her pastor's house in Tuatua to do ordinary jobs so she can earn enough to buy kerosene, rice, sugar and flour.

For the past two months, Ms Ucumasi and her daughters have been drinking from the village hall tap because their water supply was disconnected.

Fortunately, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Felix Anthony gave her about $80 after listening to her plight when he visited the village last Saturday night.

The money, Ms Ucumasi said had enabled her to pay for her water bill of $18.50 and groceries for the next two months.

Her daughter, who is living with mental illness, is 50 years old and her condition has improved compared with previous years where she used to wander around Labasa Town.

Ms Ucumasi said they were living at the mercy of others and the little she received from the Social Welfare Department.

She is pleading for assistance of any kind.

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