Elderly woman struggles alone

Halima Bibi inside her kitchen at her home in Nawaka, Nadi. Picture BALJEET SINGH

For the past 20 years, Halima Bibi has been roughing it out in Nawaka, Nadi on her own.

The 72-year-old has lived without electricity for two decades but her biggest burden is the fact that she lives alone.

More painful than the struggle to survive on the $170 she receives a month, is the despair and hopelessness of living life on her own.

She said living in darkness, without power, was nothing compared with the fact that she did not have a shoulder to cry on or share her troubles to.

At an age where most grandmothers are surrounded by children and grandchildren, Ms Bibi is on her own and finding it more and more difficult to face each passing day.

The septuagenarian said apart from living in a home that sweltered in the heat and suffering with hypertension, she also had to deal with floods every year.

“Floodwaters damage my belongings every year,” she said.

“I am really tired of the flooding and this year, I just gave up.

“I didn’t even move my belongings and the water damaged my carpet.”

Ms Bibi said she was forced to live on her own after her husband abandoned her and her daughter who moved away when she got married.

“I used to live in Kabisi, Sigatoka, but after my husband left me, I moved here along with my daughter.

“Then she got married a long time ago and moved with her family to Suva, so now I don’t see her much.”

Ms Bibi said she dreaded having to visit the toilet at night because there was no power, and also because her sanitation facility was a makeshift building outside of her home.

“There is very less ventilation inside my house as the windows are very small and this makes it difficult for me to prepare food inside the house.

“I can’t even cool down inside because there’s no power and I don’t have a fan.”

When asked about what she desired the most, she said electricity and a washroom constructed inside her house.

“My house also needs renovations because it has been inundated with floodwaters over the years.

“Every time it floods, everyone rushes to Andrews Primary School and I am finding it harder and harder to do this because of my age.

“And after floodwaters recede, I just tidy up the best that I can because I don’t even have anyone to clean my house.”

Ms Bibi said the Fiji Muslim League provided her with a $70 food voucher and the Department of Social Welfare a $100 food voucher every month.

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