Sunday, September 23, 2007


NAREN Singh's customers will only see the vegetables he sells from his roadside stall in Tuatua, outside Labasa.
But for Mr Singh, the rough wooden table that is his stall is a table of dreams for his children's future.
The roadside stall was Mr Singh's way of starting his own business a year ago.
He sells cabbages, pawpaws, pumpkins, tomatoes and long beans from his table with the bright colours attracting many a passing motorist. "A lot of people stop and buy vegetables especially after work and that has helped my cash flow," he said.
"Although it's not much, it has at least helped me pay for my children's schools fees and I always believe that education is very important because through education, my children can achieve successful lives."
"With the little I have earned over the past year, I always make sure that our family savings are kept away after I budget for the food, bills and educations expenses."
Mr Singh said most of the time, after budgeting his earnings, he only had enough cash left to buy food.
"And most of the time we just eat vegetables and I am blessed to have children who accept whatever we put on the table. Even if we have to feed on vegetables only for a month or two, that's fine as long as the money are kept for my children's school fees."
A former casual worker at several companies in Labasa, Mr Singh decided to start his own business because his casual job was not consistent.
"I also saw that having my own business like selling vegetables will help my family a lot financially as we will be receiving funds everyday which will help with bus fares for my children to schools.
"That was one of the main areas I considered so I decided to start my own market business and so far, it has been operating."
Of Mr Singh's three children (the eldest, a girl, is in secondary school while the second, a boy, is in Class 7), his youngest, Kirteshni, was the only one home yesterday because she was not feeling well and decided to join her dad at the stall. On whether she enjoyed selling vegetables, Kirteshni smiled. "Yes, it's a good place to rest and relax except in the afternoon when my friends from school go past in the school bus, and they call out to me and wave their hands like we have not seen each other for long.
"But I enjoy selling from the market stall because I also get to run to the busses and pass the vegetables to passengers who buy," Kirteshni said.
A vigilant Mr Singh will not allow his children to cross the road and pass vegetables to passengers who buy from buses that stop across the road.
"Only when cars and buses park on our side, then I give them the plastic and vegetables to take with them otherwise, if passengers are parked on the other side, then I take it myself."
Mr Singh supplies the vegetables from his own backyard where his children help out as well.
"Sometimes when I am selling from the market stall, my children plant the vegetable seedlings in our farm after school after having their afternoon tea.
"I don't buy from farmers but pull the vegetables out from my own backyard and bring to the stall to sell and without my children, who have planted so many varieties of vegetables, I don't think I will have such a colourful table," he said.
The worst of weather does not deter Mr Singh from being at his stall even though it is not sheltered. "When it rains, I don't stay home but come to the roadside and sell the vegetables even though I may not have a proper shelter over myself and the vegetables.
"I come with an umbrella and a raincoat and there's nothing difficult about doing that because I am here for my family's sake."

Adapted from Fijitimes Online