My niece, Rosie, outside her house at Baba Settlement, Levuka
What makes a country “developed”, or “developing” as a nation for that matter?
How can you tell, what are the signs?
Often, I pore over statistics, and unwittingly commit them to memory in an effort to latch on to something… an effort to make sense of the country I now live in, and what really makes it a “developing nation” or “small island developing state” or any other platitude created by developed countries to describe a country that is in many ways very, very poor fiscally, and in terms of infrastructure.
What is it that Fiji wants to develop into? In developed countries I feel that the main things that are coveted by those on the other side of the divide are Education, Sanitation, Health Care. We could have all of those things here with the right focus.
Any who are my friends are now painfully aware that I have developed an annoying habit of being outraged about the figures and indeed how many useless figures I retain, and I am sure they wonder WHY? What happened? Why can’t she just relax? Do I even like her any more?
I am amazed that I know, and tell anyone who will sit captive for more than 30 seconds in a machine gun – rapid fire -one way conversation, just for example that…..
There are 44 million PET plastic bottles produced in Fiji every year (and that figure was from about 10 years ago)
Fiji is the 40th best place to be a mother (in a list of underdeveloped countries)
Approximately 40% of women suffer from anaemia
Between 100,000 and 300,000 people live in “informal settlements” or shanty towns
Every day in Fiji an estimated average of one woman is permanently disabled as a result of domestic violence, 10 loose consciousness, and 43 are injured
In fact Fiji is the fourth worst country in the world for domestic violence of nations that have undertaken a comprehensive study of a particular type (see Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Report for more and more and more details)
More than 40% of Indo-Fijian women are illiterate in rural areas
But still, I needed something to hold on to… where is the sign I have been looking for that Fiji is just so different from the developed nation I came from, and why do I need to think about things differently now? Why and how have I become a different woman than I was two years ago?
Today, I saw the sign…..
I had to go to the Vodafone shop in town to register my phone number as originally I was sold a SIM card without being asked for any identification. After 9/11 mobile phone operators need to know who is registered to a certain mobile number.
It all went swimmingly. I took in my ID, the young man at the counter re-activated my number and then gave me the form to sign.
In the signature area, it said simply “SIGNATURE OR THUMB PRINT”.
Maybe the only thread of myself still linking me to my previous life, and the girl my friends used to know, is that I have had to open this post and amend it, to admit that the whole time I have been writing, I haven’t been able to get out of my mind the old Ace of Base Song “I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign….”