Saturday, August 4, 2007

MEET TARA WATI, of Savusavu

FOR most of her life, Tara Wati had been a labourer working for different copra planters in the hidden paradise of Savusavu. But she reckons it was those years of struggle that helped her children succeed in life.
With the little she received as weekly wages since the 1970s, Tara who lives in Nacekoro, Savusavu, could only afford to pay the bills, school fees and basic food items like flour, rice, sugar and vegetables.
"That was the basic food I could supply to the children together with my husband, who was also working in copra plantations,"she said.
"We did not receive much but we managed and today, three of my five children are working in Suva, one is employed here in Savusavu and my youngest is still at school."
Although at times the thought of not getting through life usually crossed her mind, the idea of seeing her children succeed motivated her.
"I remember those difficult days especially when all my wages went for family expenses and I didnt even have a spare cent to buy things for myself,"Tara said.
"Whenever that happened, I used to feel good about myself because I knew that at least my familys priorities were being looked after first."
But there were days when her children were small and tears would stream down her cheeks when they cried to eat chicken like other families.
"Even though my children used to cry for chicken, which was something we could not afford and could not put on our table, I am glad we provided them education until Form 6 level,"she said.
"And that is why I say we were blessed to receive the little wages but still managed to put our children through school."
Today, at the age of 50, Tara still works in copra plantations, transporting the product to mills. But her job now is different from before.
"Now I am my own boss. I collect copra from the plantations, bring the copra here to my small burner to cook first then take it to the mill to sell,"she said. Tara is not too concerned about the availability of markets for copra because she is satisfied her children were well educated unlike her.
"I only finished school at primary level so when I got married, I promised myself I would give my children a better education and thats what I did and I thank God for that,"she said.
"My husband has also played a major role in the success of our children."She said considering she came from a poor background with her husband, she considered her childrens success in life a blessing from above. Tara also has a vegetable garden and animals such as ducks and goats she sells to help with her financial needs.
"Its a difficult life today and whatever little we can do to provide financial needs for our family we should do,"she said.
The money collected from her copra and vegetable businesses has enabled Tara to purchase a truck which is used for loading copra.
"When I first bought it five years ago we used it in the village of Viani in Natewa Bay, Cakaudrove to transport villagers to Savusavu Town and back.
"But now, because we need it more for the copra business, we stopped the village business and the truck is now being used for the copra business so we dont hire any other trucks,"she said.