It was like a blue sky appearing on the horizon as thick clouds moved away.
Jone (not his real name), a 25-year-old fresh graduate, felt relieved after speaking to a counselor for the first time about what he had been through and how difficult and pressured he felt being raised without parents , who left him with his grandparents, since he was a young child.
Jon became aware of the services offered in the nearby community hall.
He found that the services were very varied, including a group of government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs), as well as voter and other registration, various medical and health services and a counselor psychosocial with whom he sat down.
The Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) Project for Rural and Urban Fijians, a platform of service providers led by the Fiji Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, coordinates various service providers to integrated service delivery to communities, making public services accessible at people’s doorsteps.
The REACH project is implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) funded by Japan.
A CSO adviser, Empower Pacific, said that there are psychological barriers, especially among men, that prevent them from sharing their negative feelings and emotions with others due to a social and cultural stereotype that compels men to hide their emotions and depressions.
“The stereotype is being challenged, however, and more and more men are coming to speak to our counselors about the emotions and stress they are facing. This is a healthy change, as mental health matters to everyone,” said the adviser.
“I feel so light and clear now after talking to the counselor and throwing away all my feelings and emotions that I had kept inside and never talked about during my school years,” Jone said.
“I graduated from a university specializing in agriculture and applied for a civil servant position. My goal is to find a job and support my grandparents and relatives who raised me. I am also ready to accept and forgive my parents if they show up.
Jon is now hopeful and ready to move on. Jone was one of the community members who took advantage of the opportunity and accessed services that would otherwise be unknown or unaffordable, considering the time and money they have to spend traveling and visiting different offices from the city, or simply inaccessible if they are not fit enough. to make the long walk and bus ride to town.
This was the case of Raijieli Aoinabanaba, 85, who relied on a long, unstable wooden stick to move around her house because she could no longer move her legs regularly.
Ms Aoinabanaba never expected to regain better mobility and a chance to walk further and more comfortably until she met a specialist from a CSO, Spinal Injury Association (SIA), who visited her as part of REACH service delivery and provided an elbow crutch fitted to her.
“The new crutch fits me well. It will help me stay more active and do more things safely,” Ms Aoinabanaba said.
The SIA specialist also provided advice to Jon as he sought help for his grandfather who required mobility assistance.
The REACH mobile service delivery sessions were delivered in Wainibuka district for two weeks in February and March in different communities.
The REACH platform has also been joined by the Ministry of Rural Development, the Republic of Fiji Military Force, the Fiji Water Authority and many others to help communities recover better from the damage caused by the recent floods that hit the area a month ago.
Fiji REACH mobile service delivery will continue to bring services to communities vulnerable to the direct and indirect impact of disasters, and to communities whose access to public services is geographically, socially or economically difficult.
The platform is also being deployed to Tonga with additional equipment and tools to assist the field team dispatched from Fiji with support from Japan.
- SALESI SAVU is Project Officer/REACH Coordinator at the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the views of this journal.