Never before have we engaged with Parliament, let alone know its Members.
But following the “Parliament Bus” programme, we have been thoroughly enlightened, at the same time, empowered to be involved with the law-making processes of our country, among other things.
These were the sentiments shared by the women of Nadelei Village in the interior of Tavua district in the Western Division when the Parliament outreach team visited them this week as part of the programme.
Speaking on behalf of the women, 85-year-old Merelisoni Ranadi said they only used to cast their votes in the past and never paid full attention to the workings of Parliament.
“Before we only know about the Prime Ministers and the Presidents. The operations of Parliament and its Members are something beyond our understanding,” the mother of seven said.
“I am a senior citizen and have never taken part at all in any Parliamentary proceedings. Also, I have never been to Parliament. Most of us here in the village don’t even know the significance of the institution.
“But for the very first time ever, we are so glad that we have been educated about the how Parliament works, its significant roles and functions and how we as ordinary citizens can engage with the institution.
“Also, today we have come to know our Members of Parliament and also the fact that they all represent us in the House.”
Meanwhile, the outreach team also visited Ba Sangam College and Kamil Muslim College as part of the programme.
At Ba Sangam College, head of Social Science Department Mr Alvin Sharma said Parliament was an inclusive one.
“After learning thoroughly well about our Parliament, we can say that this is a comprehensive institution that exists for the people of Fiji. Our MPs are approachable and most importantly, they are there for us,” he said.
“Today, our Year 9 and 10 students are the fortunate ones because their syllabuses on Parliament have been brought closer to their doorsteps and for that, we sincerely thank the outreach team.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by the head of Social Science Department at Kamil Muslim College Mr Hussain Shah who added that the programme was enriching.
“We don’t have to take our students right to Suva to learn about Parliament because of the team’s visit today,” he said.
“We are indeed grateful to have had the opportunity to learn in detail about how our Parliament works.”
Meanwhile, the team also visited Nawaqarua Village for the purpose of creating more awareness about the roles and functions of Parliament, its work and how Fijians can participate in the institution.