The Happy Home is not an orphanage; it is a safe home for children in need, run by the heart of Elizabeth Clayton who lives single-mindedly to carry out our mission.
1. Protect and Care
The Happy Home provides a 24-hour safe haven for over 150 children – of which more than 60 have been intensely cared for and/or temporarily housed, including severely disabled Sujit Kumar who has resided here since 2002.
But the Happy Home is not just a safe-home; Elizabeth’s work is extended into the community, restoring the lives of beggar children and seeking the neglected and hidden-away young ones that are kept away from public eyes.
2. End the Cycles
Elizabeth keeps the doors of the Happy Home open to children in need. These children will steal from her, cheat on her, lie to her, but they also hug her, rely on her, and love her. She is their rock, the one they can rely on. She nurtures children’s wellbeing, and educates and empowers them in the hope they will “break the cycle” of violence, abuse and poverty – and maybe become advocates in their own homes and communities.
Additionally, the Happy Home works closely with parents, empowering them to care for themselves and their family. It is a delicate balance of giving support and giving hand outs, taking steps forward and taking steps back. But Elizabeth will remind you: nobody can solve every problem, but never let the thought of what you can’t do keep you from doing what you can.
Elizabeth is also well known for advocating for children’s rights across government, police and community services. She is a passionate and smart, dedicating much of her time to collaborating with, or lobbying for commitment from, the government’s social and children’s departments as well as other agencies and community services.
Elizabeth gives children a “voice”, and the support to have their voice heard and acted upon.
Although one hopes for a world where the work Elizabeth [and the Happy Home] does is no longer needed, she has become an integral part of many children and their dysfunctional families’ lives in Fiji. By showing many children a different way of life and providing tools to help fight the vicious cycle of poverty in Fiji, she has been a catalyst for such positive change.
Hopefully her involvement with Fiji’s younger generation will help change some futures for the better. Although some days it may seem like she is fighting a losing battle, she continues, and is an inspiration for Grace and I. It was an honour working alongside her and contributing to this positive change.
Ella Fisk & Grace Nihotte (Volunteers 2014)