Island News

Strength of a woman

Written By : LUSIA BRENNAN. Often during times of hardship, families turn to their mothers to show the way forward. For Saraseini Tabua, her five children turned to her when
12 Sep 2009 12:00

image Written By : LUSIA BRENNAN. Often during times of hardship, families turn to their mothers to show the way forward.
For Saraseini Tabua, her five children turned to her when their father died in 2005.
She told herself she did not have any time to mourn, strapped her burdens on her shoulders and became the rock for her children to lean on.
I got to know Saraseini after she would supply us in the morning with what I call “the best pie ever” – next to my mum’s that it. She comes to the FijiSUN office selling her cakes and pies.
Saraseini’s husband, Eremasi Baleinatoba, had been a school teacher until he passed on.
“It was hard for us, for me to lose my husband but I didn’t have the time to mourn,” she told me.
“I knew I had a lot of work to do to ensure my children’s future would be secured,” she said.
Saraseini knew that by hook or by crook, she had to find a way to earn an income for her family.
She was like so many Fijian women who had married and had no academic qualifications to fall back on.
“We had to move out of the school compound where we had been living before my husband died,” she told me.
“We had a piece of land in Navua so I moved my family there.”
Saraseini farmed the land planting carrots, cabbages and even root crops such as dalo and cassava.
On weekends she would market her products in Navua town.
“Even though this was a good life for us, my children found it hard travelling from home to school as our home was quite a distance from the main road,” she said.
“I knew then that I had to move my family.
“I was willing to sacrifice all that I could for my children’s futures so I made some hard decisions.”
She moved her family from their small farm home in Navua to another small house in Nakasi.
This is where she lives now with her two youngest children who are still attending school.
“I live in Nakasi now with my daughter who is attending Nakasi High School and my son who attends St John the Worker Primary School.”
At their home in Nakasi, there isn’t enough land in the compound for her to grow a backyard farm, but there is enough for her to grow vegetables to sustain her family’s meals. After moving her family to Suva, Saraseini was faced with another dilemma.
“When I found us our home in Nakasi, which we had to pay $250 per month, I started thinking about how I would be able to support my children through school and all that.
“That’s when I decided to make food parcels or bake cakes and pies.
“At first I only sold around the Nakasi area but after a while I decided that I would make a lot more money if I went to Suva.”
These days, Saraseini makes at the most $30 a day which she says is enough to keep her family alive.
“It’s enough to send my children to school buy their lunch and pay for other little bits and pieces around the house.”
Her day begins at 3am when she would prepare her children’s breakfast and lunch.
“After this, I put icing and custard on the pies and cakes which I baked the night before.
“At around 7am, my children would be off to school and I would then prepare myself for my day selling.”
I asked Saraseini whether she sometimes tired of her daily struggles.
She smiled and took a few minutes before she answered.
Her answer is something to ponder on.
“I am human and I get tired too. But if I decide to rest today, what’s going to happen to my children’s tomorrow,” she said.
“It’s up to me and I don’t want to fail them. As their mother, I know it is my duty to provide for them the best care I can afford.”
Often at times we only have to look around us to be inspired. Saraseini is one such inspiration.
She lost her husband, her bestfriend in 2005 but instead of letting this get her down, she stood up for her family.
Saraseini worked harder then she ever had in her life to keep her children in school and this has paid off as her three older children now all hold good jobs.
“My oldest son is with the Lands Department, my second works with Punjas Limited in Lautoka and the third just recently joined the military’s Engineering Regiment.
“My children’s achievements are what keep me going. They show me that everything I have done and what my husband did for us was not in vain.”

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