Fiji resilience: Chef Shain

Seeing Shain hold and play with her daughter, and you can tell that 4-year-old Sarah is her world.

Her job was another important part of her life at one time, until three months ago when that world came crashing around her. That’s when the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Fiji to close its borders to tourists, and Shain lost her dream job as a chef at an Asian restaurant, one of several at the 5-star Shangri-La Fijian Resort.

Shain can see Yanuca Island, where the resort is located, from the home where she stays with little Sarah, her parents and a younger sister.
Her community of Naidovi is actually a village of men, women, and young people who work in the hospitality sector. But now most of the residents there have either lost their jobs or are working reduced hours. One young man worked in the IT section at the Natadola InterContinental Resort. Their next door neighbour, who was trying to fix a leaking water pipe when we visited, used to work as deckhand on a game fishing charter boat.

For now, Shain and daughter Sarah are taking each day as it comes.

She had thought about applying for work, but knows no one is recruiting right now.

Her employer assists by sending $50 and a box of groceries every month to employees who have been sent home.

Her sister continues to work at a spa in Sigatoka town, but on reduced hours and pay.

“At the moment, we’re trying to save whatever little we have rather than spending on things that are not useful,” was her view when asked how she and her family has been managing this far.

Today the Fiji government will deliver its 2020-21 budget. This week we’ve been sharing the stories of Fijians affected by the COVID-19 shutdown.
While many Fijians have been able to access assistance through their savings with the Fiji National Provident Fund, their future looks precarious, and they will be waiting to see what the budget will mean for them tonight.