It is bazaar season in Fiji. On Saturdays since my arrival, parishes, schools, nursing homes and the like have held fundraising bazaars to support their work.
Schools receive little government support, most run by missions. As stated in an earlier blog, there is no free school transportation so students must ride local buses and pay fares. There is no law requiring school attendance thus leaving a large segment of Fiji’s population uneducated or undereducated. It is very rare for students to finish secondary school and even rarer for students to attend tertiary institutions. The conditions in primary and secondary school dormitories are more often than not in need of repair as evident by the high number of dorm fires – there is a fire most weeks at a school.
The elderly must either live at home with extended family or be sent to a nursing home run by a religious entity with limited space – supported by family donations.
It is normal for a person to make FJ$1/hour, with a large segment of the population dependent on subsistence farming. Given these circumstances, the level of support bazaars receive is quite impressive. People attend bazaars in droves.
I have been assisting at bazaars, counting money and helping make food to be sold in stalls. At St. Anne’s primary school bazaar, FJ$28,000 was raised – this amounts to US$16,000. The Home of Compassion, a nursing home run by the Sister’s of Compassion, raised FJ$13,000 or US$7,500. The Rawaqa parish, located in Suva’s poorest community, raised FJ$33,000 which comes to US$19,000.
The parish, school and nursing home support underline the sense of community so prevalent in Fiji. Seemingly everyone in the community attends bazaars and makes donations to show support. Community spirit is demonstrated by action – loyalty is proven by active participation.
Posted By Autumn Graham (Fiji)
Posted Aug 8th, 2006