As a widow, mother of two, and the only female grog vendor at Tavua market, it may seem that Raveena Sharma would have barely enough time to maintain her own rigorous schedule, however, she also makes time to act as an unofficial spokesperson for other vendors.
“I got married after completing Form 6 at Penang Sangam High School in Rakiraki and moved to Tavua because my husband was from here. After my husband passed away, and with no source of income, I decided to come to the Tavua market and ask the Market Master to give me a table/space at the market to sell and earn money. He gave me the grog table!
“Sometimes we just pay the stall fees, sit all day, no customers and go back home. At times my children say, Mum there is no use going to the market because you don’t earn any income. But I always tell them to have patience because business is like always like that – up and down.
“At the beginning I was not very comfortable [selling grog] but I gave it a shot. I just kept telling myself that if I wanted a source of income from selling in the market than I need to sell grog. Now I enjoy selling grog. I have also asked for a table to sell vegetables but haven’t been successful in getting one!
“On days when my bench is full but my customers keep coming, I give my customers to the other grog sellers. They need money too so I help them by giving them my customers.
“I continue to raise issues with the Council on the market facilities. We pay our stall fees and we would like the market facilities be improved.
“I decided to attend this training because we [market vendors] want real solutions to real problems. Thank you UN Women for giving us this opportunity to do so.”
Raveena attended the Getting Started workshop in Tavua on February 3-4. The workshop is part of UN Women’s Markets for Change project, which is principally funded by the Australian Government.