Building her life through a local market

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Local markets always look colourful with all different types of fruits, vegetables, roots, spices, etc. People selling those stuffs are colourful, too, with unique life experiences each of them has come through. I had chances to greet a few of them at local markets in Fiji.

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IMG_1249 smallMs Bijma Wati showed me some old pictures of Nadi market over 40 years – not photographs but her story working as a market vendor for “40 plus” years. “The market was bustling with more produce and people, and the market business generally used to be better,” she recalls. There were a big mango tree and a coconut tree over there, Bijma pointed now a row of stalls and a cemented parking area. The market was just a space with no roof and stalls.

She used to wrap with old newspaper and now, put in plastic bags.

Bijma demonstrates that she used to wrap with old newspaper and now, put in plastic bags.

The business used to be better but Bijma had to struggle to raise her three sons. Her husband did not help his family make ends meet. By her over 40 years of hard work in the market her sons are now all grown up, one of them is working in a big retail chain in Nadi. She plays with her four ground children at home every day when she comes back from the market. She also had chances to visit her friends in Australia.

“I now work to keep myself going, I enjoy working,” said Bijma.

Bijma continues to keep up with more and more competitive market business by learning and practicing some business skills. If other stalls put six tomatoes on a plate, she has to add one to her plate, too. She attended a training for market vendors this morning, where she learnt about produce presentation and customer relations.
Bijma’s face lighted up when her son’s used-to-be class mate came to her stall to buy tomatoes and catch up with her.

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