Lusiana lives in an informal settlement in one of Fiji’s most heavily populated suburbs on the outskirts of Suva, the nation’s capital. She lives in a modest home with her husband and her four children.
Before COVID-19 hit, Lusiana’s husband worked for a local event company and was the sole breadwinner of the family. “The challenges that I am facing right now are mainly financial because my husband has been laid off from work,” Lusiana says, explaining that the company has been forced to stop running events due to Covid-19 protocols.
As a stay-at-home mother, Lusiana has struggled to provide for her four children while her husband has continued to look for work. “He is still at home and looking for some odd jobs to feed us. He goes from house to house and asks if their compound needs cleaning in exchange for some money,” she explains.
Save the Children have been helping families like Lusiana’s through their cash transfer initiative. The project distributes three monthly payments of $200FJD ($130 AUD) to people impacted by the financial downturn caused by Covid-19, with a particular focus on supporting households with children under five years of age.
The mother of four first heard about Save the Children’s project from her cousin who saw it online. “She told me to go through Facebook and apply online and they might help,” she says. Lusiana explained her circumstances to the project team and anxiously awaited a response.
That same month, when Lusiana’s husband was out looking for work, the local electricity company came to visit Lusiana. They told her they needed to disconnect the family’s power, as their bills had not been paid on time.
That very day the first transfer from Save the Children arrived. Lusiana immediately paid off the power, stopping it from being disconnected. Remembering how the assistance came just in time, Lusiana says, “when I received it, I went to pay our bill. It was $42 and I also bought some food.”
Having their electricity disconnected would have greatly impacted the family as they would have lost their ability to refrigerate essential food supplies, and at night would have had to resort to using kerosene lamps for light. With power, Lusiana’s oldest son was also able to continue studying online while schools remain closed, charging his laptop and connecting to the internet.
Lusiana explains she was also able to use the money to buy secondhand clothes for her children, essential hygiene supplies, as well as fresh fruit. “They were happy because they got some snacks and some fruits out of the money. I usually don’t buy that with our normal income that my husband brings in every week.”
With Fiji now facing its third wave of COVID-19, Lusiana says the expense of living in the city is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. To help make ends meet, the couple needed to send their eldest son to live with his grandparents for the time being.
Lusiana and her young family are thankful to Save the Children for stepping in to assist when they needed it the most.
Save the Children has already provided cash transfers to over 39,000 families in Fiji. Our research shows that 85% of households assisted so far have spent their money on food and basic necessities, and 49% of households put the money towards their children’s education.
Cash is the most efficient and effective way to empower emergency-affected communities – and COVID-19 continues to be the most pressing emergency Fiji faces today. We know cash works, and that the project is already making a huge difference for the lives of vulnerable Fijian families like Lusiana’s.
Disclaimer: The project is now closed and we are no longer accepting any applications.