Since the overthrow of the Chaudhry Government on May 19, Fiji has been experiencing not only political upheaval but its economic and social implications on the people have been far reaching. The Ministry of Labour estimates that 7000 people have lost their jobs and some are on reduced hours of work. The financial difficulty that Fiji is going through will be felt by everyone but for those in the lower socio-economic category, it will be worse.
The Reverend John Sahayam of the Church of the Holy Spirit said, "Five families in my parish need money for food immediately".
The Reverend Tau Tonga of St John's Church in Wailoku-Matata said that there are people in his parish who are now unemployed and have difficulty paying for school needs, food bills etc. The level of impoverishment has worsened and its effect will be felt and seen for a long long time.
Monetary assistance from our overseas friends and partners for the post coup Fiji situation has been coming in to the Diocesan Office since July. The Diocesan Treasurer Mahen Prasad said, "So far we have received in total $31,206 from USPG in London, Tonga, Dunedin and others for distribution to the parishes and to help the Office with its estimated deficit of $60,000."
A committee headed by The Bishop Viliami Hala'api'api has been looking into the needs of the parishes. By the end of August $15,640 received from USPG would have been distributed to the parishes in Fiji for basic needs. Amounts range from $300-$1600.
The Reverend Sereima Lomaloma, the Diocesan Secretary said, "The financial assistance is only one aspect of the support that is needed. We acknowledge the generosity of our partners and thank them sincerely We must also look into the relationship between the different ethnic groups, especially Fijians and Indians. How are we going to deal with the pain, fears, insecurity, the hopelessness, the feeling of being discriminated against brothers and sisters - those whom we worship together and yet are suffering?
The Reverend Lomaloma further said, 'I believe that the programmes in the churches should also begin to examine this aspect in detail. Sometimes we gloss over the multi-cultural composition of the churches without really going in depth into the tension that exists between these groups of people in the political arena that permeates all aspects of life. How does a church explain that the same people who are nationalistic about their land and who want their indigenous rights acknowledged are the same people who pray, and attend church on Sundays? If anything, this coup has forced us to really take a good look at what we mean by being a Christian in a pluralistic society like Fiji.
As a Church it is our job to assist Society as a whole and not only Anglicans. We must be transparent in our accountability to our donors"
Dear Friends and Supporters,
This is our first Spotlight since the coup in Fiji on 19th May 2000. The Diocese had to change again many decisions and plans that we envisaged at the close of last year due to our former Diocesan Secretary's sudden death. The coup immediately after we hosted the General Synod in Auckland threw a lot of our plans into chaos. At the same time the Compline Prayer brings home the fact that in life God is still the same - loving, caring, providing and supporting. The Prayer reassures us of God in the midst of all that happens in good and hard times.
"Be present, 0 merciful God and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we who wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may repose upon thy eternal changelessness;"
I take this opportunity to sincerely thank the many people known and unknown who have been upholding us in prayers.
Our people in the midst of all the challenges we had to face are not sitting back waiting for handouts. Many are doing what can be done to keep going, to survive and let live.
God is Great, God is Good
and we thank Him for our
Daily Food and Needs.