Every year, the European Union (EU) hosts a party to celebrate Europe Day on 9 May. Because of COVID-19 and the associated ban on gatherings of more than 20 people and social distancing mandatory requirements, the EU Ambassador for the Pacific, HE Sujiro Seam, cancelled the 2020 celebration.
The money set aside for the event will instead serve to support the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND) to assist Fijian communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Nadi, Lautoka and Ba area.
This financial support of FJD 30,000 will enable FRIEND to supply food items, establish small income generation projects and provide training on backyard gardening and food preservation in this difficult time.
Ambassador Seam said: “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.
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”.
The EU assistance will provide essential food supplies to people and assist families set-up small income generation projects. This aid will also serve to train people to attain the necessary skills and knowledge on backyard gardening and food security.
FRIEND Fiji Founder and Director, Sashi Kiran applauded the EU timely support.
“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.
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”.