Women reap reward of initiative

Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa with women of Saqani in Cakaudrove yesterday. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa with women of Saqani in Cakaudrove yesterday. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

FUNDS to establish the $23,000 women’s project in Saqani, Cakaudrove started from selling tobacco leaves and dried copra.

Yesterday, the 13 members of the Senivutu Women’s Club in Natuvu Village celebrated with joyful tears as the Minister for Women Mereseini Vuniwaqa opened the new canteen which was also funded by her ministry.

Ms Vuniwaqa thanked women in villages for fostering development in their homes and communities.

Club president Loraini Ruci said it all started four years ago when the 13 members decided to sell dried tobacco leaves to generate funds for the canteen.

“We did that because there was also a demand and we saw our income increasing so we started buying copra from villagers,” she said.

“We had to sell the copra at a higher price and the income even increased when we expanded our business.

“So we bought stuff for our canteen and started selling from an old house which we turned into a new building that Mrs Vuniwaqa opened. The ministry contributed $18,000 and we gave the rest.”

The club would earn as high as $6000 if they purchased five to six tonnes of copra from villagers along the Saqani coast.

Club trustee Mariana Teburega said during bad days of buying copra they would earn $500, but they never lost hope.

“We continued to do our trade with copra and tobacco and today (yesterday) we have reaped the sweet rewards of having a canteen to cater for our villagers,” she said.

“We have a lot of fishermen in this coast and our canteen also has a solar (freezer) given by the ministry and this will be used to store ice for those who go out fishing.

“We will also sell frozen food and we are so happy with our achievements knowing how we struggled over the past years but saved whatever money we received to build this canteen.”

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