Churches seek to assist students

Rev Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa. Picture: FILE

The Methodist and Catholic churches in Fiji are working to ascertain the number of students in their schools who have been affected by COVID-19.

The Rev Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa, the president of the Methodist Church, said the school boards for all 31 schools have been asked to work with teachers in their respective schools to attend to the needs of students who may need assistance in terms of lunch, transport, school materials and other needs.

“Each of our divisions and circuits for very large divisions have set up education committees to look into the needs of students in their own divisions or circuits and this is irrespective of schools they go to,” he said.

“To date, they have been primarily involved in facilitating tutorial or remedial classes but they would now be requested to spread their wings into helping out the needy children in the usual ‘solesolevaki’ model.

“So for the church, it’s not setting up anything new but activating an existing mechanism.”

Catholic education director Nemani Drova said the church was working to collect data from its 63 schools. He said the data collected would be on the number of students who experienced domestic violence at home during the lockdown period and also on students living in poverty because of loss of employment.

“The students are to tell their stories through ‘Look Listen, Love’ Bible sharing,” he said.

“What we need to find out are those students who have become the new poor because one or both of their parents/guardians has lost his/her job so that we can attempt to help them both at the school level and at the Archdiocese level.

“Secondly, those students who have faced domestic violence so that the parish priests can help them re-adapt.

“If the domestic violence is really bad, we can offer from the Archdiocese the service of our professional counsellors, two of whom are priests.”

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