When most people think of Fiji, they picture fancy resorts with beautiful beaches, oceanfront views, and one of the finest tourist destinations on earth. All of that is true if you want to limit yourself to one tiny area of this beautiful country. However, if you choose to explore the rest of the country, you will notice a rather drastic change. It is still the most beautiful place I have ever seen, but the fancy resorts and posh living are gone, replaced by small villages and towns that are filled with extremely hardworking and vibrant people.
Poverty and malnutrition usually don’t reveal themselves here as starving children on the side of the road or people wasting away from preventable diseases. The Fijian islands are surrounded by an ocean full of fish and rich land that can grow almost anything, so the problems are more hidden in the form of micronutrient deficiencies. The real issue lies in the need for education on the importance of proper nutrition. Many foods are fried, and micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are often left out of very high carbohydrate meals.
In addition, parents are often unaware of how to best feed their children, especially when they are very young. Habits begin to form at a very young age, so teaching children about nutrition, whose minds are eager to absorb whatever information you have to share, can be extremely beneficial in improving the health of future generations. Sharing important nutritional knowledge with mothers can go great lengths in ensuring a child’s health as they grow.
It is important to not forget the value of educating people on the resources around them. You could have a grocery store in your backyard, but without knowledge of the right foods to choose and how to prepare them, you can’t select the products that will help your family grow stronger and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Written by Sara Rains, Auburn University student and ONE Representative for the Committee of 19.