Tackling life with faith

President of Lami District Council of Social Services Kasanita Taufa Qoro Saint John serves 15 informal settlements from Lami to Veivatuloa Village in Namosi. Picture: ATU RASEA

When it comes to understanding the unique and distinct needs and issues faced by people struggling to eke out a living, women seem to have a deeper insight into the challenges grassroots people face.

Whether it’s their empathy or the natural tendency, they have to always find out what is wrong and address it, they just do it better than most men.

There are of course exceptions to the rule but in most cases women just have “it”.

Take the case of Kasanita Taufa Qoro Saint John. People living in and around Lami often times refer to her as “Mother Teresa”.

And they call her that because of the way she engages and help people whose daily challenge is putting food on the table and sending their kids to school.

The mother of five is the president of Lami District Council of Social Services and has her hands full, working in 15 informal settlements from Lami to Veivatuloa Village in Namosi.

Ms Saint John is originally from Navoci Village in Nadi, and has maternal links to Saunaka Village.

She resides with her family in Qauia Settlement and a grandmother to a three-month old boy.

The issues that people in vulnerable communities face day-in and day-out are not foreign to Ms Saint John because she lived their realities while growing up. She got emotional as she shared her struggles as a child, and the challenges she faced when her father remarried.

Her mother, Merewalesi Tuvou Qoro, was an ordained pastor heavily involved in ministry work with the Assemblies of God (AOG) church — Nakurakura, Nadi. As part of ministering the gospel, Ms Qoro used to hold open air church services at the Nadi market for many years. Unfortunately, she died last year, at the age of 77.

“As a single mother, my mother did not have any fixed source of income, but she believed in the God she served to get us through on a daily basis,” Ms Saint John said.

“Our mother brought us up on her own, when her marriage fell apart, she held us together and made sure we survived the hardships.

“We used to have rice and tea and sometimes we would go out fishing just to have a decent meal.

“There were times when we would really struggled as there was nothing to eat because the pantry was empty.

“And it was during those times that our mother taught us to go deeper into prayer — and to trust that God would provide our needs.

“My older sister, former television journalist Siteri Maravou had to drop out of school to work to help my mother.

“We faced a lot of hardships, even to the point that we were thrown out of our family home.”

She said despite the difficult times they faced and the trials and obstacles they had to overcome, her siblings and their children have reaped the fruits of their mother’s faith and hard work. Five of her sisters have settled abroad — four live in the United States and one resides in Brisbane, Australia.

Her niece, Siteri Rasolea is a member of the Fijiana Drua rugby team.

“I have eight siblings and we were all led by a faithful woman of God, our mother.”

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