Living off the land

THEIR old age and wrinkled skin showed no indication of their age as the women of Namukalau Island in Macuata friskily moved around and organised activities for the Namukalau Day.

These women told villagers during the function that eating fresh food from the farm and the sea has helped them live a long life.

For 92-year-old Vika Qiriwale, the sea and the farm have been her sources for food. She said eating fresh fish and vegetables have become a norm for her that has affected her taste buds for chicken and processed food.

A good impact though, on her taste buds as she agreed, but she is saddened by the fact that many, younger than her, have lost their lives to non-communicable diseases.

And NCDs is a term not known to this group of women.

Ms Qiriwale urged the villagers to eat fresh food always and to plant their own food. Hospital visitation, she said, has happened only once or twice, as she remembers being treated for a cough.

But she has not been treated for any NCD cases.

Seini Makosa, in her early 80s, described their healthy lifestyle as an influence by their parents.

“From our childhood days in the 1930s, we used to eat from the sea and the farm every day, not just sometimes, but every day,” she said.

“That is why we are healthy today and continue to enjoy life because of choices made by our parents to eat healthy.

“We may have missed out a lot of fun activities in town and fast food, but we have never regretted living our lives on the island. Today, we see and live the rewards of island life.”

The women have their daily chores which include collecting firewood, washing clothes, mat weaving, cooking and other village activities they are asked to do.

Village headman Iosefo Bale said the women always reminded the younger generation to eat healthy every day.

“Our elderly women have not been treated for any NCD issues or rushed to hospital for being seriously ill,” he said.

“Even until today, they eat lots of vegetables and seafood and if we cook chicken or sausages, they won’t eat it.

“Their lifestyle challenges the younger generation in this village.”

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