The stories behind the stalls

Elna Sisimia left, with her stall

Day after day they sit under their colored umbrellas with their little tables from morning until late in the evening, serving hungry students, drivers and pedestrians.

While they are a common sight to passersby, for some of these women life is a real struggle.

SIBC Online spoke to some of them this week.

Elna Sisimia 57, from Choiseul province and Rannogga island lost her husband in 2009.

He left her with five children to support, two of them in Primary school that time.

She already had a food stall at the Choiseul Bay market in Burnscreek , East Honiara when he passed away.

“It wasn’t so difficult for me i can say, because I was already earning money for myself at the time”, she said. “I just continued doing that to support myself and my children.”

Mrs Sisimia said her children never went hungry.

“When they go to school I make sure they have money and food, and when they come home, we always have something to eat on the table. This is all from money i earned at my small stall.”

Four of her children now have jobs , except for the youngest.

A woman selling mango at the Honiara Central market

Mrs Sisimia said women should not depend solely on their husband for money.

“We women at times demand a lot from our husband. We should also do something to help our husbands, earn our own money and buy what we need.”

Janet is in her forties and also a mother of five children

She used to have a paid job, but she quit. Now she has a food stall at the Choiseul Bay market, in Burnscreek.

“My salary did not meet all my family’s needs, there were always bills to pay and school fees. My husband’s salary could only pay the bills at fortnight.

“But now we have food every day, my market meets the busfares, and bills. Whenever I see that we are short on money i go to the market.

“I’ve been doing this for ten years and i enjoy it alot.

Lisa Laufi 43, is a single mother of three.

The father of her children left when they were very small and life was a constant struggle.

Lisa Laufi on the far right.

She started off growing her own vegetables before setting up her own food stall at what is known as the Kukum Raintree bus-stop.

Mrs Laufi said she tried never to get sick so she doesn’t miss a day with her stall.

“I am a Seventh Day Adventist, so the only day I don’t come here is on Sabbath. But i am here everyday.

“If i miss a day, we will not have any food or money. I even pray that i don’t get sick.”

She admitted it was never easy.

“Sometimes I get so tired and I just want to give up. But if I give up, my children will not have any food or school fees.

“I cook early in the morning at five. Everyday, I arrive here at 11am. My children often help me.

“Sometime I wish that someone could just see our struggles and assist us. I think of that sometimes.”

Angela is a very young widow from Malaita Province who lost her partner just last December.

They have a four year old son and she is eight months pregnant with their second child.

She had to send her four year old son to her parents in Malaita province, and came back to Honiara to earn a living.

She sold fish n chips and lemonade drinks at the Kukum Rain-tree market.

“You can see for yourself, life is very tough now”, she said. “I am here trying and struggling to find some money for my unborn child. If my children’s father was alive, life would be so easy.

“I feel like I don’t have any other choice, i have is to do this. I have to buy nappies, and basin and things the baby will need.

“I will keep on doing this until I am due to go to the hospital. ”

 

Some of the names have been changed to protect the identities of the women.

 

By:Kikiva Tuni.

 

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