Despite the uncertainty of the political situation in the past few weeks, life for the people in the settlement of Marata in Wailoku has taken a turn for the better with the building of 30 new toilet facilities as part of a project coordinated by the Ecumenical Centre for Research Education and Advocacy (ECREA).
The project, funded by the Vodafone ATH Foundation has also seen unemployed youths from the settlement learn a trade which is expected to enhance their employment opportunities when the project is completed later on this month.
ECREA Field Coordinator, Semiti Qalowasa said the project has boosted the lives of many families in the settlement.
Families who needed assistance were identified after ECREA conducted a research survey early last year. The Marata project is being implemented in stages and started with a one week workshop in November on self help development and educating people on how to care for the environment.
The workshop included three days of theory work and two days of practical work where the residents from the settlement collected gravel from the river to fill in the pot holes on the road. Mr Qalowasa said the improved road conditions assisted the delivery of the raw material for the construction of the toilets and also greatly improved access for residents of the settlement.
Mr Qalowasa added that the project was being implemented at an ideal time as it helped the residents of the settlement focus on positive developments and not on the current political situation.
“During the time the military were moving in to take control of the Government on the 5th of December in the main Suva area, the people in Marata were fully absorbed in the project which for them has really become a lifeline in these difficult times. There has been little discussion about the coup but more about the project and what it means for them and their children,” Mr Qalowasa said.
“The project has really encouraged the residents to continue improving their standard of living and to keep hoping for the best despite the circumstances.”
A total of 7 youths have been trained in block laying and carpentry with 10 of the 30 toilet bases built and completed in December. The 30 new toilets are expected to be completed by the end of February 2007 with plans in place for more training amongst the youth to assist them find employment.