Single and strong

MANY a time, some members of our society are looked down upon. The reasons are diffrent; maybe it’s because they are poor, or they could not afford what others deem a “decent living”, or it’s because their children are not dressed properly and the list goes on. And it is only right to mention in this column that among those who are often looked down upon are single mothers.

For many years, these women have been scorned by other members of their very own communities. There have been assumptions that their being pregant was a mistake and they have to bear their children alone.

It is sad to note that in our very own communities here in Fiji single mothers, hardly ever the father of the child or children, are always the ones to blame. They have commited a grave mistake and so are a disgrace to society.

As time changes and so too mind-sets, single mothers, whether by design or not, now have oportunities those before them never had.

So much so that some single mothers are now champions in their own rights in many of our communities. Some are leaders in their workplaces, in their own homes and they are even setting fine examples, not only for their children, but also for others if they only took the time to stop and look.

Being a parent, let alone a single parent, has never been easy. Just ask Salanieta Loloma Nadukeva, a single mother of Nabulini in Wainibuka. Each day of struggle is a day accomplished.

“Life is never easy, it’s always a struggle to look for what to put on the table and looking for a source of income,” she said.

“When I do sell, whatever I earn out of it, is used again to pay some boys to cultivate and plant more vegetables and cassava to continue to assist me with my market produce.”

Her husband left her to fend for her two youngest children Sevuloni, a Year 10 student at a nearby secondary school, Merekeleni, a Year 5 student at the Nailega District School, and her grandchildren who keep her company.

Being a staunch follower of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, Mrs Nadukeva tries to sell her produce on Sundays at the Laqere Market.

This, she prepares on Saturday evening when their Sabbath ends before she catches the last bus from Nabulini to Suva.

“Most times I don’t eat or sleep because I try to get my produce to the market. I leave on the last bus on Saturday and go straight into presenting my produce to sell beside the Laqere Market,” she said.

This is the account of Salanieta and her daily struggles.

Imagine the many other thousands of mothers who maybe going through the same but never complained about their lives. That’s because their main objective was to give their children the best in life especially a good education to give them a good chance for the future.

Methodist Church in Fiji secretary for Christian Citizenship and Social Service Reverend Iliesa Naivalu said stigmatisation was always a problem and at times these people were seen as sinners.

“But they are mothers and there could be several factors that should be taken into consideration,” Mr Naivalu said.

“We should try to encourage everyone or whoever who may be going through problems, especially mothers, and give our support to them as they are part of us and they also play very important roles in the society.

The Methodist Church, Mr Naivalu said, had its own program of helping the underprivileged, single mothers included.

There is a list of activities that are included to cater for their needs, the visitation and the purchase of groceries and program workers also work closely with Government which has the means to meet their financial needs.

“When single mothers approach us and they have nowhere to turn to, it’s the responsibility of small cell groups to look after those going through hardships.”

Mr Naivalu had ealier noted that such problems were not going to be fixed overnight.

“Getting the ‘right politicians’ into office will not solve our problems and neither will spending a bunch of money.

“The change that we need is a change of the heart. We need to change how we treat one another and we need to get our priorities straight.

“Our families are really messed up and this is hurting our kids the most. There is no way that this country is going to have any hope for a bright future unless our families start getting stronger.”

Different families go through different life situations therefore it is only right that we support and care for each other, share whatever little we have and always look after each other in our communities.

* More on women: Page 11

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