Finding Hope in the Heart of Poverty

Anne Wilmar.

Poverty to Power Network, Western Division, Fiji

Written by Frances Tawake

“Life continues to backlash on me every time I try to move forward. I’m a widow and a mum to 10 children and experiencing poverty was a lonely endeavour for me”. Those were the words of Anne Wilmar, a single mother from Ravarava settlement in Korovuto Nadi.

Anne described her life like a battlefield where all throughout her life she had to go through sacrifices and struggles until today. As we visited her home we could see her from afar since her tiny cosy home was open on both sides with heavy plastic carefully tucked on the sides to guard the inner house from the rain.

Her first goal of starting a family flew to ashes when her husband was drowned in Pacific Harbour, Fiji leaving her without a choice to raise her children single-handed. She faced challenges with in-laws so decided it was best to leave. She stayed with her relatives for a few  years and decided to give her life another try of finding love. She remarried again and later had one more child. Unfortunately  her second  husband was murdered and till now no justice has been served.

“Life was never easy and most of the time I was discriminated against in my community because I can’t contribute,” she added. Her responsibility of feeding and caring for her entire household through unpaid work made her more vulnerable and most of the time she was faced with time allocation choices when she would sacrifice her own well being for others. With all the family/childcare responsibilities it was difficult for Anne to hold a job because she gave up even before having a chance to move forward.

Anne is also one of the many women who have been through cycles of violence in her life. She sustained injuries and was traumatised on so many levels but one thing that kept her going was seeing the faces of her children.

Anne is someone who lights up the room with her smile and her laugh is contagious. When we visited her she served us with the most quenching strawberry juice filled with so much love. Anne is also thankful to her relatives who have been her safety net when she was trying to survive alone. 

She is part of DIVA for Equality Poverty to Power network. DIVA has been helping her with food assistance and school costs for her youngest daughter, and working on a 6 month personal work plan for herself and her daughter who lives with her, and the other children. Anne expressed that she feels fortunate that she has been part of the urgent assistance from DIVA for Equality who supported her with her daughter’s preparation for going back to school.  Anne participated in the first-ever Poverty to Power Freeskool this year and said it inspired her in many ways. On the last day of the programme each participant presented their 6 months plan. Anne shared her plan of stepping forward to take up caregiver courses so that she will be able to find work, support her children, and change her life. She continues to have high hopes for the future, while living one day at a time.