Struggle for family

Lenaitasi Daunivanua and Jokapeci Maria in Suva on a busy Friday evening with their food packs for night-goers. Picture: SIKELI QOUNADOVU

ON a cold and windy Friday evening, on the streets of the Capital City, Lenaitasi Daunivanua and his wife Jokapeci Maria sit on the pavement braving the weather selling food for those hungry night-goers. This is something the couple of 18 years have been doing for the past four years, as they fend for themselves and in the process trying to provide the best for their four children.

Everyone has their own past, their own narrative to share. For the Tacirua-based residents their story, like everyone else, is one that has its own fair share of joy, pain and struggles.

“We do this together and we will not give up doing this together because we are doing this for our family and more importantly our children,” said Lenaitasi, who used to be the caretaker for the pastor in their All Nations church.

With their youngest child being 11 months old, Jokapeci said it hurt her having to leave their children behind to go and sell their produce.

“A lot of times I cry as I wish I would not be doing this but how can I not do this? How can I not support my husband? How will our children eat? How can we survive?

“These are the questions I ask myself,” said Jokapeci with a stuttering voice.

Their day starts with a trip to the market and then to their small backyard farm.

“We also sell our produce just around the area, before we proceed to Suva in the evening,” said Lenaitasi.

“In a day we can be spending $40,” he said. With two children in primary school aged 10 and 12, the couple has big plans for their family.

“On a good night from the food packs and roti we sell we can be generating as much $110 to $120,” said Lenaitasi.

“The money is used to pay for our bills, put food on the table and send our children to school, the leftover could be $5 or $10 and this is banked,” said Jokapeci.

“We have been saving also as I hope to purchase a boat because with the boat we won’t be needing to buy fish as I can just travel to the village and fish from our fishing ground,” said Lenaitasi, who is originally from Naivilaca, Noco in Rewa.

For their small business that started two years ago, the motivation and inspiration for Lenaitasi and Jokapeci has been to see the smiles on the faces of their children.

“When we go out to sell our produce, we have always entrusted the lives of our children to God and also to our neighbours to look after them, and every time we come back, we thank God for protecting them and we always thank our neighbours,” said Jokapeci.

“Life is not hard, it is only hard if one is lazy. If we can survive, if we can do it, anyone can too,” added Lenaitasi as he proudly hugged his wife while showing their mouth-watering food packs.