Why are we poor – Rampant poverty takes it toll on thousands

Thousands do not have a penny in their FNPF, hundreds of families do not eat three meals a day. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FT FILE

There is a lot of talk about the rampant poverty in Fiji.

More than 250,000 live below poverty level — about 28 per cent of the population.

Thousands do not have a penny in their FNPF, hundreds of families do not eat three meals a day.

Kids as young as six have to help their parents to put food on the table.

There are so many gut-wrenching sto­ries in the mainstream media.

It’s a pretty dismal state of affairs.

The opposition lead­ers take every opportunity to blame the Government for this dire and alarming situation.

Some of us are moved by these tales of woe and send a couple of hundred dollars to some charitable organisa­tions, who claim to be helping the poor, and the destitute.

Business houses give thousands of dollars as part of their corporate social responsibility while making sure that they get enough publicity for it.

The Government gives a $100 a month to senior citizens and discounted bus fare.

All this is very good but are handouts a long-term solu­tion to eradicate poverty?

Can we truly call what we’re experiencing under COV­ID-19 – a recession?

It’s more like parts of the economy have simply stopped.

Many of us are facing a scary and uncertain reality.

Yet there are silver linings: firstly, with the cause of the downturn so obvious we may yet see a rapid rebound if and when a vaccine or other solution can be found.

And secondly, businesses now have a window of opportunity to reflect on how to adapt and survive in these times and beyond.

My father always used to say “laziness moves so slowly that poverty soon overtakes it”.

While sugar cane farmers have been wallowing in self-pity, we only need look at The Grace Road Food Company which has recorded another achievement as it harvested its second variety of rice in Navua.

The company has been commended for its role in providing employment for locals and for developing rice farming potential.

While some businesses are closing down, new ones are springing up.

I read a quote, “if you are born poor, it’s not your fault, but if you die poor, it’s your fault” (Bill Gates).

We have all sorts of excuses for being poor when the real reason is that we do not take personal responsibility for our actions.

We can complain all day about our lives of quiet desperation.

The other day, a healthy looking middle-aged man came to our place asking for money.

I told him I will give him $5 if he would wash my car.

He turned around and walked away.

We have lost values like self-respect.

You may have heard that millions of people in the US are waiting for the $1400 stimulus checks.

Dave Ramsey, known for his financial advice, in an interview, criticised the idea of another round of stimulus checks for the coun­try during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t believe in a stimulus check because if $600 or $1400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed al­ready. That’s not talking down to folks. I’ve been bank­rupt. I’ve been broke. I work with people every day who are hurting. I love people. I want people to be lifted up, but this is just political rhetoric,” Mr Ramsey said.

John Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what the country can do for you. Ask what you can do for the country.”

At the time of its bombing in 1945, Hiroshima was a city of both industrial and military significance.

After the bomb­ing, a new slogan appeared on the walls of Hiroshima: “Forget self! All out for your country!”

Fundamental truths are always a constant.

They are fixed across time.

Always persisting.

Forever unchanged and unbroken.

Applying equally from generation to gen­eration.

To achieve our goals and create meaningful impact, we must get in the arena and let our deeds do the talking.

A no-nonsense approach to living.

It tells the world that you understand behaviour never lies.

It is a brilliant, transpar­ent, and effective approach to life that anyone can adopt to perform at their absolute best.

You have to be hungry – Get up early, develop a daily game plan, throw yourself into every task and your ac­tions will show and tell the world how hungry you are and how badly you really want it.

Good things come to those who hustle…who work hard…who pay the price and who initiate progress.

Always has.

Always will.

We must have the courage to persevere, to bounce back from setbacks quickly, never lose your enthusiasm for your goal…and confront every obstacle with an indomi­table spirit.

We need to become professionals.

Be on time (not Fiji time), be fully prepared, be self-sufficient and consistently deliver results.

By doing so, you’ll never have to utter a word as your reputation will do all the talking for you.

Have a sense of urgency.

Work fast, focused and with purpose.

Set a deadline on each activity and neither ac­cept nor provide any excuses. Your deeds will open up new and greater opportunities almost immediately.

The strategic benefits of living a “Deeds Not Words” ex­istence are vast and profound: Your reputation will speak well of your character and professionalism.

Opportunities will come faster and with less effort.

Peo­ple will trust you.

You will attract an entirely new quality of people.

You will have the inner confidence of a champion.

You will never have to apologize for not walking your talk.

The Chinese and Koreans have come to Fiji and have helped in erasing poverty while we blame everyone for our pathetic plight.

There are four critical rules to follow if you plan to exit poverty – stop expecting others to support your laziness, stop expecting life to be easy, stop making yourself feel good about being poor, stop hating money.

Every time you see someone else’s luxuries, you find a hundred reasons why that person has it easy you make these excuses to prevent yourself from doing any of the work needed to get there.


  • ARVIND MANI is a former teacher who is passionate about quality education. He lived in the US for 35 years and was actively involved in training youths to improve their speaking skills. The views expressed are the au­thor’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper. He can be reached at theinspiredteacher9@ gmail.com

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