Women live off the mangroves

Vinisita Misikuka and Mereseini Roko sell prawns in Nausori. Picture: VILIAME ODROVAKAVULA

AS darkness quickly falls and businesses slowly close its doors, Vinisita Misikuka quietly sits beside the pavement of one of Nausori Town’s busy streets to sell mangrove prawns or moci as they are commonly known to locals.

These edible prawns not only allow Ms Misikuka to earn money for her household, it also allows her converse with customers who buy from her.

Mud lobster (mana), red-clawed crab (kuka) and black mangrove crab (kukaloa) are among other crustaceans that Ms Misikuka brings to sell.

Being from the village of Kade in Koro, Lomaiviti, Ms Misikuka is familiar with collecting these delectable crustaceans from the mangrove and marrying a man from Vaturua Village in Nakelo, Tailevu, the skill was juqqok for crabs, mana or kuka during low tide and when I have some I bring to Nausori to sell.

“The heavy rain and there is constant thunder and lightning because the mana is terrified of the sound while in their burrow, so they quickly crawl out when they hear the thunder, making it easy for us to catch them.

“Collecting them sometimes depend on our mood. If we feel like it then we go to the mangroves, but most often we just rely on the root crops to sell.”

The 42-year-old, who has spent 20 years in Vaturua, would often come to the market with her husband, who is a farmer, to sell either root crops or seafood.

Ms Misikuka said whatever they earned helped them in meeting certain obligations to the vanua, the church and government.

“We have four children, the two eldest girls are married and one of them is working in Nadi while the other is married in Raralevu Village.

“As for the two younger children, one stays in Vanua Levu while the other is a Year 10 student.”

Ms Misikuka said she had quickly adjusted to living in Vaturua even though she was raised on an island far away from the main island, Viti Levu.

“You quickly follow the lifestyle in a particular village and learn their way of living.”

She said God had been a main source of strength for her family during this trying time.

She added it was important for people to eat healthy which was something that motivates her to come and sell fresh produce and seafood.

“If you live in a place where there is abundant of resources make use of it, but just use it wisely especially for young women living in rural villages.”

After selling she quickly collects her wares and cleans her sitting spot before she makes her way back to Vaturua.

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