The four villages of Navala, Namau, Nadrugu and Tabuquto, are more than 30 km away from Ba town, inland from the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. Most of the women living here are unemployed or do domestic duties. Far away from shops, supermarkets, the women work hard to support their families and to put food on the table. Most must travel to town twice a week to sell the produce from their farm to earn a living. In an ongoing project, beginning July 2017, (SI Youths Reaching Out to Rural Women and Girls and Educating Them for Better Health & Better Life), SI Club Ba identified problems including poor nutrition, low financial status, poor hygiene practices, lack of knowledge and skills and low understanding of the training and services available to the women.
One of the clubs’ youth Soroptimist members is a nurse and visited the four villages, together with another team member, educating the women on the importance of health, the need for proper nutrition and how to practice proper hygiene techniques. The women were given sanitary kits, locally manufactured in the Ba training centre, – a new centre offering a variety of training programmes, which the women were encouraged to join. The outreach included: health and hygiene; proper preparation and eating of balanced meals; and hygiene practices in the home and community. The women in attendance shared their old practices in terms of nutrition and hygiene and said that the outreach allowed them to learn new ways of improving their own health and the health of their families and communities, and that they could implement the new practices straightaway. The women were thankful and were keen to share information from the outreach programme, with those who were unable to attend.
Many of the women were motivated to further develop their knowledge and learn new skills at the Ba training centre, choosing from classes such as weaving, sewing, computer training, literacy classes and cooking. More than 25 women agreed to join the centre, to increase their skills; welcoming the opportunity for improved self-confidence, increased self-reliance, and the opportunity to operate their own businesses on completion of the programmes. The learning would also increase their ability to market their products both locally and internationally, with the support of the Ba Women’s Forum and Soroptimist International.
The club hopes to repeat the project and spend more time with the women, maybe having a day workshop with them. They hope that in this way the women will be able to share about some of the difficulties that they might face and discuss how they overcame them, which other women can then learn from. They hope to include someone who has undergone the training (sewing, weaving) to share her success story, and how she has developed her skill and how this has helped her to support her family – the club expects that this will encourage or motivate other rural women to be enrolled in the training programmes and operate their own small businesses which can help them, support their families.
In partnership with Ba Women’s Forum, Ba Catholic Women’s League and Ba Catholic Youths and Sponsorship from Christ The King Parish