Oldest Suva Market Vendor Recognised During Fiji Day Celebrations

Fiji Day this year recognised one of the oldest market ven­dor at the Suva Municipal Market.
10 Oct 2022 12:27
Oldest Suva Market Vendor Recognised During Fiji Day Celebrations
Suva Municipal Market oldest market vendor Jay Wati with her two recognition awards at her stall on October 5, 2022. Photo: Shreeya Verma

Fiji Day this year recognised one of the oldest market ven­dor at the Suva Municipal Market.

She started at the age of 23, Jay Wati has served many customers who visited her stall at the Suva Municipal Market.

Now at 73-years old, Ms Wati re­flects on her time she started sell­ing at the Suva Municipal Market.

“My late parents were market ven­dors during their days, but sadly my mother became very sick and used to spend half of the year at the hospital,” she said.

“Times were hard as we siblings were schooling too.

“I had only studied up to Form 4 (Year 10) and had to stop there to start looking after my younger sib­lings.

“Being the eldest I knew it was my responsibility to help my parents.

“I wasn’t hesitant to leave school as I knew I had nothing to worry about because in my heart I knew that in future my siblings will be there to support me.”

Ms Wati learnt about selling at the market when she would accompany her parents at 13 years of age.

Since then gradually picked up her marketing skill sets when she took over her parents stall.

“I feel really great today that I have been given this opportunity to be part of the women society,” she said.

During the colonial era, Ms Wati was amongst the many that strug­gled to earn a living.

With the little money she earned from selling at the market, Ms Wati still managed to get by.

Ms Wati said being a new vendor at the time had its struggles, but with time and patience she had managed.

“When I became a market vendor everything seemed nice, but the only difficulty I faced was with the money. When it came to giving change to customers I wasn’t pre­pared for it.”

“But with time I got used to it and with practice I got better and better. I’m proud I didn’t give up, but rath­er kept pushing myself to learn,” she said.

The mother of two buys vegeta­bles from farmers and sells it at her stall inside the market as her only source of income.

“My husband passed on 15 years ago and since then I have been look­ing after my two sons.

“One of my sons needs extra care, sometimes I have to close my stall as early as 3pm to rush back home to cook and feed him.”

Ms Wati said it wasn’t easy man­aging everything by herself, but as a mother she did and still does it all.

“I am thankful to my sister in Can­ada who never made me feel I’m alone, she’s always there to support me and my son,” she said.

She said she love her time spent at the market, it feels peaceful speak­ing to other vendors and also meet­ing new people while they buy their vegetables from her.

“Ms Wati said this Fiji day she would be praying for the success of the nation and feels blessed to be part of Fiji.


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