Monday, February 06, 2006

A woman from Kia

A woman from Kia Island

Kia is not only a car! It's a small island north west of Labasa. Pronounced Ki-ah. Kia can mean a war-club but these people are a fisherman tribe closely related to Vorovoro and Mali people. These days they supply fish for the Labasa market, caught by spear or line or nets. This is not deep-sea or large-scale fishing like the Chinese boats, but local family units in their small boats. Many Kia people live away from the island, in Labasa or Suva, in order to provide education for their children and find jobs. Here is a story of a Kia woman and her struggle to look after her family. I found this story on and it was entitled Priorities of the People: Hardship in the Fiji Island

Single Mother, 32 Years Old

I began my education at St. Mary’s Primary School in Labasa in 1977 at Class 1 and left at Form 4 in 1987. I returned to the village to look after my grandparents for 12 years until their death. I stayed on my own until I had my first child in 1991. I reared my child alone for 5 years before I had my second child in 1994. I sent both my children to school here on Kia Island whilst raising them alone. I had no proper source of income, but I managed to see my daughter through primary school by fishing, gathering seashells, and selling them in Labasa market.

There is no male in my household. I therefore am finding it very hard to meet all the obligations demanded of me by the village, churches, and the school. I am receiving F$65 per month from the Department of Social Welfare but I hardly get by with this amount. For other income I go diving for fish three times a fortnight. I sell my fish at the Labasa market and pay F$10 per trip from Kia Island where I live. I have to prepare about F$150 every two weeks to see to my family’s needs and survival. I work hard keeping my house clean and raising my children properly and hope to do better in the years to come. My main concern is that my children get a better education and hopefully they will be able to find employment and have a better lifestyle for themselves.


rose said...

I am curious about "obligations demanded of me by the village, churches, and the school" are they intended to redistribute wealth from the wealthy to the poor? They seem to be producing a hardship for the poor? I think I'm missing something as I'm not familar with the system.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Hi Rose,
There are huge obligations in the Fijian networks, such as the local church whether Methodist or other, catering for visiting people of status, a 'soli' (money) to the 'vanua' - local tribe, as well as extras to the school besides fees. People can of course not give donations, but there is a pressure to be part of the community. Ask any Fijians you meet in Suva to tell you about their obligations and they will surely say it is difficult to refuse.

rose said...

Yes, this is the impression I get. You hear about school fees a lot in the news and such and it's just heart breaking. I can understanding the taking up of a collection so that the money can help out the less fortunate "tax the rich, feed the poor". I guess the idea of poor people donating their meager salaries to buy food for people of status (who presumably have plenty) makes my head hurt. Does money that goes to the church go back to the community?

Anonymous said...

Most people in this part of the world, are the same, poor, by our standards. They all contribute to the local institutions to fund them, as there is little other source of money. Since most everyone is related to one another and the communities are small, it it difficult to refuse one's obligation to the community.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Poor by 'our' standards, but I think they regard 'wealth' as an extended family and the network that supports the community. Knowing your family, knowing the status of people around you, contributes to a kind of security that Westerners don't have in the same way. Relatives who live in Suva and work for money often give large contributions back to the family in the rural areas. Maybe grumble about it at times, but they can be selective also and decide when and where toa give. What do you think of ZPeter Singer's ideas about the distribution of wealth from richer people?