It had been longed for and came as a most welcomed surprise to Amani Rakula and Savaira Marama Rakula to be joined in civil union as husband and wife through the ‘REACH mobile service delivery’ that arrived at their remote village in Namosi province.
The newlyweds have been together for the past six years but have never had the chance to officially be married. This was made possible and formally presided by an officer from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office in their village of Naraiyawa, located in Naqarawai district of Namosi province. A team of officers from the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Legal Aid Commission and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) visited the community as part of the ‘REACH mobile service delivery’.
The bridegroom, Amani Rakula said, “We had always planned to get married legally after living as a couple for six years. We’ve always wanted to be legally married. We are here in the mountains and most of the services we’ve come to know are just through hearsay. We understood well from the REACH awareness raising session today the services that are provided by the Ministry of Justice through Birth, Death and Marriage Registration.”
To access government services, the people in Naraiyawa village, catch the public bus very early in the morning to Navua or Suva, but have limited time to spend in town as they need to return on the same day. The bus fare expense is another barrier for them to access these services.
‘REACH mobile service delivery’ raises people’s awareness on the rights enshrined in Fiji’s Constitution and provides social, economic and legal services by the relevant service providers at the doorstep of the people in Fiji.
Savaira Marama Rakula, the happy bride said, “It will really change our life. We are very excited with being legally married. It will secure the equal ownership between us and our access to government services available for married couples as well as other services such as joint bank accounts. It will bring about socio- economic benefits to us.”
A hundred and ninety-six people (120 women and 76 men) from three communities in Naqarawai district in Namosi province accessed information and services in the recent REACH service delivery using the mobile office, a customized bus equipped to deliver services to remote communities.
The services provided to the people range from marriage certificates, bus fare assistance to women’s club project support. Sixty people (32 women and 28 men) received legal aid services in regards to the civil, family and criminal laws, 97 people (67 women and 30 men) accessed social welfare schemes, and 153 women consulted officers from the Department of Women.
The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project aims to promote peace building, social cohesion and inclusiveness. A mobile service delivery approach is undertaken to reach communities throughout Fiji with the focus to reach the furthest behind first.
The Fijian Government has endorsed the global Sustainable Development Goals which aim to ensure that no one will be left behind in the path to sustainable development. Goal 16 is a commitment to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build eﬀective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. And Goal 5 is a commitment to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. The REACH Project supports the achievement of these goals.