In Her Own Words

Jacinta, Fiji

“My work as a counselor has helped me with my own self-awareness and to improve the relationship with my children and my family — as a mother, a woman and as a daughter, I am 110 percent better than before.”

Jacinta—a mother of five with children ranging from four to 23 years old—works as a counsellor for Medical Services Pacific (MSP) in Fiji. Supported by the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund, MSP’s new One-Stop-Shop in Labasa provides free clinical services, counselling, legal support and temporary emergency shelter to women survivors of violence.

“I love my work. People need a counselor to help with the issues they have in life… a counselor can help women learn positive ways to respond to their issues. Abuse is a big problem, especially during a disaster. People in crisis are stressed and some are not able to cope well, and then the whole family is affected.  Because men feel they need to be strong and to look after the family, they hold their emotions in. At counselling, they can let it out.”

Jacinta and MSP’s One-Stop-Shop clinic is strengthening existing services available for those living outside of Fiji’s main island – bringing services directly to rural and remote villages across Vanua Levu.

“There are many advantages of MSP’s new clinic. It’s private and people feel comfortable waiting here to see us. Women see this as a safe and confidential place, which they need because physical and emotional abuse – it’s still a very hush, hush topic.

When people evacuate to emergency centers, there is no privacy and also too much time. Parents need to be aware of potential sexual abuse in the centers, and child protection is a big need. I have seen the need in the community – we need this work to go on. Thank you for listening to our stories so we can continue to support our people.”

Learn more about the grassroots work of women like Jacinta and our partner Medical Services Pacific in Fiji, and follow them on Twitter: @mspfiji and Facebook: @msp.org.fj

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