EFFORTS to provide food for those affected by the COVID19 pandemic was boosted today with the generous contribution or some might say sacrifice of Europeans.
The Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) Fiji has since the start of the crisis responded to the food needs of Fijian communities in the western division of Fiji.
That work will be increased by the $30,000 donation earmarked Europe Day celebrations organised annually by Delegation of the European Union (EU) for the Pacific.
FRIEND Fiji director Sashi Kiran said the financial support would help them supply food items, establish small income generation projects and provide training on backyard gardening and food preservation to residents in the Nadi, Lautoka and Ba area.
European Day, normally held on May 9 was cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions and EU Ambassador for the Pacific, Mr Sujiro Seam, instead diverted funds to support FRIEND Fiji.
“FRIEND has been responding to food needs since the Lautoka lockdown. After the lockdown ended we have seen increasing numbers of people losing their employment and the call for food aid has grown.”
“It has been difficult to reach all households calling for help with continuous rain,” Kiran said.
“The EU support today will enable us to open a food bank in Lautoka and in Nadi in partnership with TISI Sangam where those in extreme need of food could collect food parcels. The support to livelihood is much needed during this difficult period. We thank the EU for recognizing the need to assist people start small livelihoods projects to earn an income”.
Ambassador Seam said contributing to community development is an integral part of their service.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible to host our traditional Europe Day party to celebrate what the EU stands for: unity, solidarity and harmony. Using the budget set aside for this event to help the people of Fiji is a different way to promote our values,” Seam said.
“I know times are difficult for many, who struggle to put food on the table and bring money home for their families. I’m happy to partner with FRIEND Fiji to provide relief to the affected Fijian communities in the West.”