Tuesday, June 3, 2008


FOLLOWING the death of her husband 10 years ago, Vir Mati (pictured) has been struggling to put food on the table and support her four children.
But that has not deterred the 62 year-old woman from starting her own nursery business from her home at Nasoso in Nadi.
She lives at her family home with her son and his family and one of her two daughters, a few minutes drive away from the Nadi International Airport.
Vir Mati and her son Sharwan operate the nursery business which is named after her son from their home which sits on about a quarter acre of land.
She said it has been a long struggle to get to where she is but the journey was worthwhile.
"I was born and raised in Sabeto. I moved to Nasoso when I got married," she said.
"I have four children. My husband was a labourer at the then Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji and I did domestic duties.
"But things started to change when my husband started getting sick and died in 1998. I had to support the family.
"It was not easy as I went around asking for money and doing housegirl jobs here and there.
Ms Mati said she had enough of borrowing from people and doing casual jobs to support her family six years after her husband died.
She said it was an enormous task to educate her children as they wanted to further their studies. "My children also had their fair share of pain and suffering," she said.
"My daughter who had completed her secondary education wanted to further her education at university level but I did not have the money to send her there.
"This affected my daughter mentally and now she is staying at home with me.
Ms Mati said she had gone to a flower show and saw how people bought pot plants although customers.
She said she immediately started her little business of 10 different flowers at that time in 2002.
"I found this very interesting so I carried on," she said.
"For three years after starting my business I never sold a plant. But as time went on I managed to sell three plants to Raffles Gateway Hotel.
"Then Arbor Week came along in 2005 when I managed to make around $70-$300.
"I also managed to score a hotel order ranging from $300 to $1000. This helped me out a lot."
Ms Mati said she would attend flower shows but did not like the fact that sales there were very low.
She said looking back she would not have guessed that she would be successful in her nursery business.
"It's been a long time coming and today I have almost every plant from roses to ferns," she said.
"The red ferns and other fern species rake in the highest sales.
"I would not change this for anything. Since my business has taken off I tend to my gardens in the morning around 7 and take a break from midday and then go back to the garden in the afternoon.
"My family has been through a lot and now we are doing okay. In life you have your ups and downs."