Lockington's Everyday Fiji ... Life Goes On

Allen Lockington is a self-employed customs agent and business consultant who has regular articles published in www.connectme.com.fj/news/opinion. I thank Allen and Connect for permission to reprint some of them in this political blog. They remind us that life goes on, whatever the political situation. And it's good to know that.

Homeless in San Francisco

When I read the story about Kolinio Waqairawai I was shocked. I said: how in the world did a citizen of Fiji become homeless in San Francisco?  What a  terrible fate. People usually migrate to greener pastures. What happened to the  pastures he went to? But full marks to his family and other Fijians who have tried to bring him home. There are a few like him right here in Fiji. Proper homes were given to them but they seem to prefer the streets, and keep returning there despite the good efforts of church and charitable organisations,  private individuals, and government agencies.

But let me bring you closer to home. Many people migrated to New Zealand and Australia leaving behind good jobs only to find that they couldn’t hack it  and ended up on the dole and or on the streets. Many are too ashamed to return home because they had painted such a wonderful story of their impending migration that they’d rather live in poverty over there then came home and face shame. 

But now I bring you home, I suppose no people of this world is immune to poverty and like the rest of the world we have so many of our own. Just a while ago we read the story about the three children who were abandoned by their parents. By the way, what happened to them?

However, I know of some people who always look like a million dollars but are struggling to make ends meet and or living in poverty. Yhese are proud people they don’t let others know of their dire circumstances. 

So, after all Kolinio’s story is not really unique. The only difference is that he is homeless in San Francisco.  Heck, that sounds like a  good title for a movie.

 The line "Proper homes were given to them but they preferred the streets. And kept returning there despite the good efforts of church and charitable organisations,  private individuals, and government agencies" suggests this is choice made by normal people.

Research on such people world-wide shows that they are extremely poor, severely crippled,  mentally retarded or mentally sick, alcoholics or drug addicts, and often a combination of these maladies.  Such people do not have what you and or I would call "choice"  and for this reason they do not "prefer" to live in the streets.  They see this as the only way they can cope with the problems of life.

Only if the underlining problems of these people are understood and appropriately catered for will they not return to the streets. Providing what Allen called a "proper home" is obviously not  appropriate help, and this is not always understood by those wishing to help these unfortunate people. Often, though, they do understand but simply do not have the resources to help in the most appropriate ways.  This is where in some wealthier countries the State gives a hand, but even in those countries many people wrongly blame the unfortunate when they should be saying "There, but for the Grace of God, go I."  -- Croz Walsh.


SOE said…
South Pacific region - Safety Net

It is high time that the Pacific Forum and all associated with it devote their thinking time and then action to a Safety Net for the entire South Pacific Region which will make provision for all those named in the Footnote to Allen Lockington's article and more than these. In twenty years it has not been apparent that anyone has seriously addressed this matter. The Fiji Sugar Industry was used as a quasi-welfare entity for only those engaged in the Sugar Industry and the greedy politicians who fed off it. They never thought beyond this box, did they? Time now for bringing into being a measure of support for those who fall between the cracks of South Pacific societies: the aged, the disabled, the mentally ill, and those who have been trampled upon by often violent husbands and others who abuse them. Of course, economic growth is required to pay for such things. So why have neither Australia nor New Zealand nor any other developed nation in the area and beyond thought sufficiently imaginatively and creatively to make available to the South Pacific Islands what they all enjoy At Home? Is is not very telling that they have not?

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