LifeLine Fiji – Meet Jeremaia Merekula

  • LifeLine Fiji – Meet Jeremaia Merekula image
  • LifeLine Fiji – Meet Jeremaia Merekula image

Meet Jeremaia Merekula, the driving force behind Lifeline Fiji. Our Member organisation provides 24-hour access to suicide prevention services in a country with one of the highest suicide rates globally. Under Jeremaia’s leadership, Lifeline Fiji has engaged 87,300 Fijians through outreach sessions, social media campaigns, and community mental health training. Jeremaia and the volunteers at LifeLine Fiji facilitate community workshops around the islands, and offer psychosocial support, crisis intervention, and telephone counselling. Their ongoing fundraising initiatives and a recent grant provided by LLI ensures the longevity of this vital work:

Q: What is it about how you operate that brings something unique in crisis support to your community?  

JM: Lifeline’s suicide prevention crisis support line in Fiji offers culturally sensitive support tailored to the needs of the local community. It provides a safe space for individuals to express themselves in their native language and offers support from trained volunteers who understand the cultural context and social challenges unique to Fiji. Additionally, Lifeline may collaborate with local organizations and authorities to provide holistic support beyond phone counseling, such as community outreach programs and referrals to local resources for ongoing assistance.

Q: What do help seekers value the most from your service? 

JM: Help seekers often value empathy, understanding, and non-judgmental support the most. They appreciate feeling heard and validated in their experiences, as well as receiving practical guidance and resources to address their challenges. Additionally, timely responses and a sense of confidentiality and trust are crucial factors for help seekers.

Q: This work can be exhausting – what keeps bringing your staff and/or volunteers back to take calls and provide service?  

JM: The dedication to making a meaningful difference in people’s lives and the belief that every call could potentially save a life are powerful motivators for staff and volunteers in Lifeline Fiji. Also, the sense of fulfillment from helping others, the supportive community within the organization, and the ongoing training and self-care practices help maintain their resilience and passion for the work.

Q: How have you adapted to better serve your community needs? 

JM: We continually adapt by staying attuned to the evolving needs of our community through feedback mechanisms, data analysis, and collaboration with local stakeholders. This might involve diversifying our services to include online chat support or developing specialized programs for specific demographics or issues within the community. Flexibility and innovation are key to meeting the ever-changing needs of those we serve.

Q: Is there an innovation your service had developed of which you are especially proud?

JM: Apart from our yearly campaigns. One of the things that we have worked on over the years is our Corporate Trainings as a form of fundraising for Lifeline Fiji. This is one of our initiatives that is really working well and at the same time bringing in financial support for the organization.

Q: Are the specific vulnerable populations on which your service is focused? What are their specific needs, and what special responses have you developed to meet them? 

JM: Yes, our service may focus on specific vulnerable populations such as youth, LGBTQ+ individuals, indigenous communities, survivors of trauma or abuse etc. Each group may have unique needs, such as language barriers, stigma around seeking help, or specific cultural considerations.

To meet these needs, we may develop specialized training programs for our volunteers to ensure they are equipped to provide culturally sensitive and inclusive support. We may also collaborate with community organizations or leaders to establish trust and provide targeted outreach to these populations. We also offer tailored resources and referrals to address the specific challenges faced by each group, such as access to mental health services, support groups, or legal assistance. Overall, our goal is to create a safe and welcoming space for all individuals seeking support, regardless of their background or identity.

Read more about our Member Lifeline Fiji’s valuable work here