30 May, 2019, 7:40 am
ASINATE Meli is an independent grandmother who believes life is about overcoming struggles and conquering challenges.
At 73, she still enjoys what she does best and spends most of her days at the Lautoka market, a place which has allowed her to foot bills for her family and make ends meet.
She is a woman of substance, a person who firmly believes that hard work is the answer to every difficulty in this world.
Tragedy first struck the Lauwaki lady when she was just a young girl enjoying a swim out at sea with her other siblings many years ago.
A boat which went past them accidentally hit her on the side and she had to be admitted at the Lautoka Hospital and as a result she went into a coma.
That accident denied her rights to education and her rights to enjoying a normal life at the age of six.
For many years, she tried hard to accept the fact that she would not be able to walk properly anymore as a result of the accident.
She did not give up.
She grew up to be a strong, independent woman who accepted challenges with both hands and promised herself that she would work hard and support her family.
She married a gentleman from Bukuya, Ba, and they had nine children before she returned home to Lauwaki and decided to focus on her own life.
Despite the effects of the accident on her physical appearance, Ms Meli has never given up hope because she believes God saved her from that tragic accident with the belief she has a lot to offer to this world.
The Lautoka market has been home to the soft-spoken lady for many years now.
For six days in a week, she uses the market accommodation which is provided for women vendors who come from afar and goes home on Saturdays with just enough shopping to update her groceries stock at home.
Such has been life for her all these years and while age maybe catching up, she is not even thinking of retiring because she has made friends and families with other market vendors who have always given her smiles and hope to continue what she loves doing.
Ms Meli has 21 grandchildren and she hopes to visit all of them sometimes soon.