The number of early school dropouts between the ages of 13 – 21 years continues to rise in Fiji. Much of this increase is due to parents no longer being able to afford school fees. As a result, a growing number of young people are leaving their families, opting to move to the city to live off the street corners, and find a way forward apart from education. This is creating issues of increased violence among gangs that many of those young people are becoming part of.
For the last two years, two Youth for Christ workers in Fiji have focused on connecting and building relationships with a number of these young people and sending them back to school. Through the Street Guidance Program, staff are seeing a growing number of boys stepping off the street and into the classroom. Currently seven young people are attending Secondary Schools and three are pursuing trade courses at Fiji National University. Another group of teenage boys from the Raiwai settlements around Suva, the capital of Fiji, are meeting with Youth for Christ staff every Tuesday and Friday each week. During these twice-weekly meetings they engage these young boys in Bible studies and teach them life-skills such as cooking.
When Cyclone Evan, the largest cyclone to sweep across the Pacific in 20 years passed through Fiji last December, it sent over 8,000 people to temporary shelters and brought considerable damage. Many families could not send their children to school as much of the priority was building their homes, trying to get their lives back to normal. With the help of Tear Fund NZ, Youth for Christ’s National Director, Tomu Raiviu, and a team of relief volunteers went into areas damaged by the cyclone to offer assistance to families rebuilding their lives.
Youth for Christ is also organising monthly sports events for the school students they engage with each week as a lead up to Youth for Christ’s Summer Sizzler Camp that will take place 18th-22nd August.
Please pray for God’s guidance as the staff prepare for this event, and for God to bring the right people to be on the leadership team this year.