Island News

Selling coconuts for survival

Written By : Nandika Chand. It is difficult to find a decent job today especially with the current political and economic crisis we are going through. School leavers and as
09 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : Nandika Chand.
It is difficult to find a decent job today especially with the current political and economic crisis we are going through.
School leavers and as well as university graduates are increasing on the streets knocking from door to door asking if there are any vacant positions in companies and firms.
Nowadays everyone is looking for a white collar job with big companies and no one wants to go in the agriculture and trade field.
This is different for 20-year-old Salawa Simitai of Saunaka Village in Nadi who sells coconuts to put food on the table.
Salawa was hesitant to talk to us at first but he later brightened up and spoke to us when we asked about the coconuts he was selling.
He said he climbs the coconut tree every morning at 9am and stands by the roadside by 10am to sell them.
“I left school after class eight and did not go to high school because we were having financial difficulties,” Salawa said.
“We are a family of six and with three brothers and one sister and our parents to guide us,” he said.
“My father was the only bread winner in the family and there is a challenge for him to take the responsibility of looking after a big family on to his shoulders,” he said.
“My younger sister and brother are schooling and my other brothers are doing odd jobs here and there,” he said.
“My father does not work anymore and stays home while my mother looks after the household,” he added.
Salawa said it is hard to get a job as companies and businesses want experienced people with the specific qualifications.
He said this was unfair on youths and school leavers like him because they too had families and siblings to look after.
“When the school leavers roam around in town looking for odd jobs the lawmakers mark them or hassle them for loitering,” Salawa said.
“I also tried to look for jobs but was not successful as I did not have the education and qualifications,” he said.
“Now with no other option left, I decided to start selling coconuts by the roadside,” he said.
“I also have a small vegetable garden at home and sometimes sell vegetables,” he added.
Salawa said he always made it a target to sell 15 coconuts a day and he does not return home until all the coconuts are sold.
He said at first he felt shy to sell coconuts but now has overcome his shyness and is proud of what he is doing.
“My customers are people who travel to and from Suva and sometimes a group of tourists usually drop by to experience the taste of what we call the ‘bu’ or coconut milk,” Salawa said.
“I like attending to my customers and they usually have a thing or two to advice and inform me about,” he said.
“Usually I am commended for selling coconuts rather that engaging in illegal activities such as abusing drugs or robbery,” he said.
“My parents and proud of me and support me for what I am trying to achieve,” he added.
Salawa said he wanted his younger brothers to get a proper education and join the workforce rather than struggling like him.
He said he wanted to make his small vegetable garden big and own a small stall in the market where he could earn more money.
“I think youths nowadays should engage in the agriculture sector because this area has potential and there is a lot of money involved,” he said.
“If we do not work hard and spend our time lazing around than nothing can be achieved,” he said.
Salawa said his ambition was to become a successful farmer and own a piece of land where he will build a house for his family.

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