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Shalveen Chand
Friday, July 11, 2014

THERE are 125 children in the care of the Social Welfare Department, most of them found abandoned at birth.

Social Welfare Ministry director Rupeni Fatiaki said it was a sad fact but it was reality that most children in their care were abandoned by their parents.

"We have nine residential homes where we look after children who are normal and also those with disabilities. These children are under the care of the State, where the director social welfare is their legal guardian under the juvenile act," said Mr Fatiaki.

"We have seen the trend, some of them abandoned straight after birth at the hospital, some left with relatives, old people who can't look after them.

"Some are cases where children have disabilities. It's quite a challenge bringing up a normal child, with a disabled child the challenges are more. We have encountered situations where children with disabilities have been abandoned because parents don't want to look after them."

The government provides budgetary allocation of $4.5million to ensure the facilitation of quality care and welfare of children who live in residential homes.

Methodist Church in Fiji general secretary Reverend Tevita Nawadra said the church had helped the State through the Dilkusha Homes and Veilomani Boys Centre.

"This is a social problem. Earlier this year, someone left a two-year-old girl at Dilkusha and such incidents are a sad thing. As a church, we will look after the children," said Mr Nawadra.

"But if people are facing difficulties, we can provide them a channel to find support which would discourage people abandoning their children."

Sanatan Dharm Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji general secretary Vijendra Prakash said abandoning of children was a social evil which not only deprived a child of social rights but also the love and affection of parents.

The 125 children are being looked after at the Boys Centre, Dilkusha Home, St Christopher's, Mahaffy Girls, Treasure Home, Veilomani Boys, Lomani Au Children's Home, St Meena's Home and Homes of Hope.

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