Covid-19 has had severe economic impact on Fiji whose main industry is tourism. Because of border closures and no international travels, many employees working for the national airline and hotels have lost their jobs. It has been reported that approximately 150,000 households have been affected. The population of Fiji is over 800,000. Those who have lost jobs or working reduced hours have had to turn to food selling either at roadside stalls or walking from door to door to big companies hoping that those in employment will buy their food to earn income to feed their families. Many have returned to their villages to work the land just to survive as they don’t have to pay rent.
Many families are struggling to put food on the table for their children. Many are relying on extended families or big corporates to help with food rations. It was reported that thousands of schoolchildren were going to school without breakfast and do not even have lunch. Through the kindness and generosity of religious organizations, individuals and St. Vincent de Paul the schoolchildren are provided with lunch 3-4 days a week. It is heart breaking to see some children wrap up their leftovers to take home so that their younger brother and sister have something to eat.
For the Crocker family, who ran an eco-tour business, their livelihood came to a standstill. With no income and many mouths to feed and rent and electricity and water bills to pay, they returned to traditional farming by selling dwarf coconut trees, planting root crops and local fruit in Nadi. They constructed a roadside stall outside their home to sell home made food. This is just one clear example of the reality.
The economic situation in Fiji will worsen as time goes on and no one knows when international borders will open and when a vaccine will be available and accessible to allow us to start a new beginning and a new way of life.
Archdiocese of Suva is assigned to St. Thomas More Church, Oceanside for Missionary Cooperation Plan 2021.
Information provided by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong, Archdiocese of Suva, Fiji