Not that easy

Naomi Valekuta who is president of the Tawake Womens Club inside the clubs canteen Picture SOPHIE RALULU

QUIETLY, their fingers ruffled between layers of dried pandanus leaves as their faces wore expressions of a hurried job that needed to be done. Seated in a corner of the village hall, these women of Tawake Village in Cakaudrove were trying to complete weaving the kiluvatu mat, a traditional mat that identifies the vanua of Tawake.

Amongst them was Naomi Valekuta, president of the village women’s club that, as she describes, has been in existence since she moved to the village.

The Drekeniwai native who has made Tawake her home after marrying her husband in the 1980s, believes her role as team leader is to help her members do better for themselves.

“I have been president of the club for more than five years and it’s not an easy duty because we all have families to take care of and other duties as well,” she said.

“So we need to balance our work with the club and our duties at home as wives and mothers. “But the club has grown stronger in terms of our little projects and businesses that we do in the village.”

Operating a canteen from the village hall is part of their project.

Mrs Valekuta said they started this canteen in 2010 with a $50 contribution from the members.

“That $50 was used to buy our groceries and we rolled out our business from the income of our first sales,” she said.

“Since then, our canteen business has run really well and we now have a lot of stock to sell from the canteen. “One of the rules of our canteen is that no one is allowed to buy on credit.”

Such practice and rule, Mrs Valekuta said, has worked out well for her group.

“We don’t have any financial problems with our canteen because we have stayed true to this rule of ‘no credit’, and the villagers have also respected it,” she said.

“The money generated by the canteen is used only for the canteen and not on any other projects we have. “So we have a good profit saved in our canteen account and it’s encouraging because this healthy financial reputation keeps the members working.”

On a weekly basis, the women have meetings, village chores to attend to and scheme jobs.

“When we meet once a week, the women do various duties like weaving mats, scraping coconuts to make oil and we sell it from the canteen,” Mrs Valekuta said.

“Otherwise, we do these things for our customers and there has been quite a lot of orders, lately.

“The small project work we do for the village is to clean up some areas and we also attend village meetings which is good for us.”

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