Losavati Sovivi of Vatukaroa village was among those at Naboutini village to receive the REACH Bus services. (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

Losavati Sovivi found herself passionately engaged in the awareness raising talanoa (talk) and found exactly what she wanted to know to make her family happier. The details of the social pension scheme and the importance of child protection inspired her, especially as she has dedicated herself to caring for her family members, raising her ten children – with the youngest at 11 years old – and she has been looking after her 82 year-old mother-in-law. 

“It was an eye-opener, finding out how we as adults should talk to children, politely, paying attention to them and listening to them. I have a lot of experience in communicating with children but I may not have always been mindful of the importance of those matters,” said Sovivi.

“I also obtained the information about social pension scheme. I’ve found I can apply on behalf of my mother-in-law and I can prepare all required documents to apply,” she added.

Sovivi was one of 75 people (46 women and 29 men) who gathered at the community hall at Naboutini village, located in Saqani district of Cakaudrove province. They became more aware of various topics on the rights guaranteed by Fiji’s Constitution and exercised their rights by accessing social, economic and legal services provided by government. 

The services were brought to the village by a team of government officers coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji, as part of the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project.

This team also provided mobile service delivery to market vendors and others at the Labasa and Savusavu municipal markets, where people accessed the services using a custom designed bus equipped as a mobile office to deliver services for the first time in the Northern Division. 

Villagers arrived in numbers to take advantage of the services provided by the REACH bus (Photo: UNDP/Akuila Sovanivalu)

People at the markets could consult officers from the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Legal Aid Commission, Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission, and the Ministry of Justice.

Henry Barrack, a vendor at Savusavu market, supports his family by selling yaqona and vegetables. He was one of the many who accessed the services being provided by the mobile service delivery bus. 

“I was able to start the legal process to adopt one of my grandchildren. I wanted to formalize it so I can fully welcome the baby boy to my family while his mother raises two more children as a single mother,” said Barrack.

REACH Project Outreach Coordinator at the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Salesi Savu said, "Some communities and individuals are challenged with geographical locations in accessing these services that more available in towns.”

“Others like market vendors, found it difficult to find time to leave work and go to government offices. So, we take the services right to their communities or in this case the locations convenient to them such as the market place," said Savu.

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.  

The Project is implemented by the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji in partnership with the Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, and the Legal Aid Commission with support from the Government of Japan and UNDP.

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