BLEAK CHRISTMAS FOR EVICTED FARMERS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 24, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---It will be a black Christmas for six families who will become homeless on the expiry of their leases on December 31.

Many have two questions on their minds, where will they go and how will they live.

The Christmas and New Year celebration is something that these families are least bothered about.

The six Nausori families, who currently live in a temporary camp, will spend this Christmas reminiscing over how they used to celebrate Christmas, New Year and other important festivals in their homes for the last three generations.

The head of one household, Kamta Prasad, said their future seemed bleak and all the worries of the world seemed to have fallen in his hands.

"We had dismantled our seventy-year old home and that was too painful... we were born there, we grew up and got married from that home and now it's all gone," Mr. Prasad said. "As you can see, all six of us are trying to manage our lives in this shack."

Asked how long they will maintain their current living arrangements, Mr. Prasad said, with eyes full of tears: "We have no idea. My sister has let us use this shack. But where we're going from here is something we don't know. We don't have that much money to move elsewhere"

The six families comprising of 27 individuals, both young and old, are being housed under pieces of roofing iron and tins.

The current weather patterns, especially the torrential rains have not helped their situation.

The oldest member, Bhag Wati, said life was just too difficult and uncertain.

"It has to take someone who has lost his or her home to understand how we feel right now. The home where we have lived for years, where we experienced happiness and sadness is now gone. It is hard for me to explain how we feel," Mrs. Wati said. "And here comes Christmas, the best we can do is sit and get into the deep thoughts of how we spent the last few Christmases at our own home."

The children at the camp will have no toys and sweets as their parents are still trying to figure out their future and how they could feed them.

Meanwhile, the camp in Valelawa, Dreketi, Labasa is getting more and more families.

In total, some 1,333 leases expire on New Years Eve.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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