The relevance of struggle

Maria Chand at her stall along Princes Rd. Picture: WANSHIKA KUMAR

When the COVID-19 pandemic led to job losses, Maria Chand overcame her ordeal by opening up her own business.

It wasn’t the kind of startup that raked in money in the thousands.

But it was something she could easily handle. Secondly, she became her own boss and loved the prospect of earning money each day.

The 37-year-old now operates a vegetable stall along Princes Rd and describes her business as a ‘new hope for her family.’

She sells fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from Fiji’s Salad Bowl.

“After completing Year 10, I started working at a restaurant to help my family get by,” she said.

She set up her roadside stall after the pandemic hit Fiji.

“I started my small business a few months after COVID-19 struck, just when everyone started to have a hard time. With limited income, she said the economic downturn exaggerated her expenses and her family struggled.

“We were renting and besides that we had to meet our other expenses. It was then that I decided to open my market.”

“Thankfully, I had my in-laws in Sigatoka who supplied me with vegetables to sell.”

Chand said establishing her own business has made her proud.

“It is a big achievement for me as a woman.

“I see money every day and I am able to afford my rent and meet my family’s expenses with my husband, so it feels really good.”

The Tacirua resident said with fluctuating sales, she experiences both good and bad days.

“When I started the business, the sales were really good but now it’s a bit slow.

“I get around $90 to $100 a day. Sometimes I earn $30. That’s the way it is.”

Looking back at her life, the mother of one said because of financial constraints, she had to drop out of school and work at a garment factory.

“My father was not working and my mother was struggling to meet our family needs. There were eight of us so I started working at a garment factory to help mum.

“I always wanted to become a nurse while in school but at the age of 15, I was a garment worker.”

Chand is not afraid to dream big. From her roadside setup, she is already planning to pursue her studies in the caregiving field.

“There’s no limit to dreams if you put your heart in it. I wish to pursue my studies and even go to overseas.

“I believe struggle is good as it teaches us valuable lessons which could become relevant to us later in life.”

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