Home  |  Branches  |  Careers  |  FAQs  |  Feedback
Search
HARDWORKING LUSIANA
Print this page   
29 April 2011

 

Lusiana Tabulala, 55, sits quietly on her stool at stall number 10 at Sigatoka Market on a Wednesday morning. Carefully, she removes the fish from her carry bag and places them one at a time onto plastic plates in neat piles of four to five fish depending on their size and weight. The general idea is to have each plate weigh up to about a kilogramme each.

“Yadra!” she greets us with a big smile as we make our way over to her. She had been expecting us since 9am. It was now closer to 11am.

“I held back from putting my fish out on the table until you came or otherwise it would have all finished by now and you would have nothing to photograph!” she says with a laugh.

 Lusiana isn’t worried about my tardiness holding up sales because no sooner did she put out the kabatia, saqa, ulavi and ose on the plates, did people swarm like flies to snap them up. I kid not when I say it took less than five minutes this particular day, for her to sell off 20 plates!
 
At $10 a plate or parcels as Lusiana refers to her fish heap, she makes a fairly decent return on her investment of $4.50 a
kilogramme that she pays fishermen who sell their catch to her. A nearby restaurant has a standing order with Lusiana for four parcels each day and she ensures that she delivers that order first before she gets to the market every Wednesdays through to Saturday.
 
Originally from the Solomon Settlement in Wailoku, Suva, Lusiana moved to Namata Settlement in Lomawai, midway between Sigatoka and Nadi when she married at age 17 in 1973. Her working life began then for Catholic priests at Namata Ashram.
 
With nearly 40 years of dedicated service to the church, Lusiana asked for and was granted permission to lease 10 acres of church land for her and her family. Lusiana’s round, warm face lights up as she talks about her growing fortunes in particular the newly acquired 10 acre farm.
 
“The priests were very kind to me when they gave me the lease in 2009, they told me that I could pay the lease as soon as I found a steady job and with the savings I made from my fish selling business, I was able to make the first payment when it was due in June last year,” she said.
 
“On my farm I have planted four acres of cassava, pumpkin, loki (bottle gourd Chinese melon) and bean and I also have 10 goats that I sell if people want to buy.” Loki is an interesting choice of vegetable for a non-Indian farmer to grow and it soon becomes clear why.
 
“Before I did this I used to make bhara (a savoury made from blended yellow split peas) and bhajiya (also a savoury made from tubua leaves) and sell it to children at the school,” she said.
 
Interesting, first loki and then bhara and bhajiya. How is it I ask her, does she know how to make these dishes.
 
Laughingly, she tells me that Namata is a predominantly Indian community and since moving in there she has learnt a lot from her neighbours including the language. The ease, with which she rattles off in Hindi, makes me smile. If only greater assimilation of this nature could take place elsewhere.
 
“Nowadays,” she continues, “If you sit down you get nothing so you have to work and through my small business I support my five grandchildren that live with me,” Lusiana said of her dependents now aged between nine and 18 years.
 
Her husband, a 65 year-old retired cane farmer, takes care of the farm when she’s in town doing business. When her husband retired, Lusiana said that she prayed very hard to figure out how she was going to take care of her young dependents, and then it dawned on her.
 
“I had been doing this buying and selling for the last four years now but it was on a much smaller scale,” she said, adding “and I saw the demand there was and decided that if I was to expand, I needed cold storage for the fish that I bought on the days that I wasn’t at the market and so I approach the Fiji Development Bank for a loan to help me buy two fridges.”
 
Lusiana’s loan application to FDB last year was approved under the Small Business Scheme for the purposes of providing working capital for wholesale/retail. The two chest freezers that she bought with the financial assistance have helped her business considerably.
 
FDB’s small business scheme is a facility that enables people like Lusiana, turning over less than $100,000 per annum buy or establish a new business, operate a contractual transport or plant equipment business, accommodation facility, provide working capital and acquire shares in companies.
 
“On the days that I come to the market, I wake up at 4am, make breakfast for my family, load my wheelbarrow walk with my
grandson to the main road to catch the 7am bus into town. I get into town at about 8.45am and before 11am all my fish is sold,” she said.
 
“It’s like that every time and the women in my settlement ask me how I do it and I tell them you pray first and then you go,” she chuckles, “but it was a chance I took and I am grateful for the rewards that I have received because of it.”
 
Future plans for Lusiana includes buying a fishing boat and net so she and her son can go fishing. The great manifester that she is, I don’t doubt for a minute that Lusiana will make that happen too.
 
News Archive
Jul
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Jan
Feb
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Dec
Jan