A new organisation aiming to provide educational opportunities to the poor and needy children in Fiji was launched in Auckland last weekend.
The New Zealand Chapter of the Foundation for the Education of Needy Children (FENC) in Fiji opened its doors for activities and fund collection with a formal inaugural ceremony held at the Commerce Club in Remuera on August 28.
The local Chapter, registered as a Charitable Trust has eight Trustees, all of Indo-Fijian origin, dedicated to the fulfilment of the objectives of the parent body in Fiji.
John Samy, who spearheaded the ‘People’s Charter’ for uploading democracy in Fiji, was among the initiators of the Foundation in Fiji earlier this year, said that the plight of the poor was getting worse in Fiji and that urgent action was imperative to stem the rise in school dropouts.
“More than 40% of the Fijian population lives below the poverty line, a sharp rise from less than 10% when the country obtained independence in 1970. Children suffer from malnourishment and have no access to education. Over 10% of Fiji’s children between five and 14 years of age do not attend school. The situation is dire and needs urgent attention,” he said.
Mr Samy said FENC Fiji was launched on January 20, 2010 to provide assistance to those in need in the short-term but make them economically independent eventually.
“We do not want them to become permanent beneficiaries but get proper education and obtain gainful employment. Our long term vision is to promote economic growth and employment,” he said.
New Zealand Chapter Chairman Sursen Singh said the Foundation envisaged sustained improvement to the lives of children in Fiji.
“The emerging trends indicate the inability of parents and guardians to provide the support of bare necessities for children to pursue meaningful education. Despite the efforts of various agencies, children of poor families continue to drop out of school for several reasons,” he said.
Mr Singh said he was confident that the Foundation will be frugal in spending on administration and other overheads and augment financial resources to achieve its prime goals and objectives.
Shobhna Golian, a Foundation Trustee, said Fenc Fiji New Zealand Chapter would function as a voluntary, non-profit, cause-oriented organisation to provide educational and related support to children of the poorest of poor families in Fiji.
“Such support, in the form of scholarships covering fees and other education related necessary requirements (transport, food, school levies, text books and stationery) would be extended at primary, secondary as well as tertiary levels. The Contribution Form can be downloaded from our website (www.fencfiji.com). Completed forms can be sent to The Secretary, PO Box 24502, Royal Oak, Auckland 1345,” she said.
According to Ms Golian, the parent Foundation in Fiji had collected 324,000 during the first year of its operation.
Labour MP Dr Rajen Prasad, who was the Chief Guest at the launch dinner, said that education was the most powerful force that can strike at proverty.
“It is a vehicle that will remove lift people from their despicable predicament and deliver them towards success and prosperity,” he said.
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Founder-Trustees of FENC Fiji at the launch on August 28 (from left) Anil Varma, Hari Nath, Sursen Singh, John Samy, Harjeet Golian, Aruna Pillay, (sitting) Joyti Singh, Shobhna Golian and Usha Jacobs. Picture for Indian Newslink by Narenda Bedekar ©