Marica thinks positive – Converting challenges into opportunities

Marica Lakolako selling her vegetables along the roadside at Corbett Avenue, Nausori. Picture: WANSHIKA KUMAR

From when she was a little girl, Marica Lakolako had dreams of one day travelling in an airplane to an overseas country and experiencing  what life was like outside of Fiji.

When circumstances made the dream a bit difficult to become reality, she did  not let it discourage her.

Ms Lakolako put her efforts into striving for success by learning as much  as she could by any means available.

She said she was unable to engage in tertiary studies, but did not let it stop her from broadening her knowledge by doing online courses and other short courses.

“I did not go to university, but I did voluntary work during the elections and even did some computer studies for short semesters,” the 35-year-old said.

“Back then, we had to pay school fees and buy other things such as textbooks, bus fares and, because of those financial difficulties, I couldn’t pursue higher education.

“I couldn’t fulfill my dream because there were many challenges and I didn’t have a dad to support me, but the positive  side was that I didn’t get to stop there.

“Even though I did not get to reach that high level of education, I managed to educate myself through other means.

She said being a product of a single parent also posed many hurdles along  her journey.

“I was bought up just by my mother, so it was really a struggle for us and  now, while I am taking care of my own  family, it has made me realise the number of difficulties we faced daily while growing up

The mother of four currently operates a canteen and sells vegetables  along the roadside in Corbett Avenue, Nausori, and she also assists in screening visitors coming into her community.

“The good thing about the education system now is that it teaches us how to  run business.

“Before, business was considered to be mainly for males or those who are rich.”

Accepting the situation she was in but not allowing it to limit her future prospects,  she converted the challenges she faced into opportunities.

And along the way, Ms Lakolako completed a good deal of business training online in a bid to improve her trading  skills.

“I did some business training, short courses on how to manage my finances  and online courses through the LDS Church allowed me to learn how to run a business.

“One of the good things about this lockdown is that it has given us opportunities to complete many online courses while at home.”

The former Vunimono High School student said she also operated a stall at  the Suva Flea Market.

“After a fi re last year, all my things got destroyed, so I had to look for other alternative means to support my family. That’s why I opened a canteen in Corbett Ave.

“The demand at my canteen has been really good and now I am able to sell my handicraft products, pure perfumes and clothes along with other things.

“During this time, I saw that many people were struggling to buy things and my canteen sales started to decline, so I started a vegetable stall.

“Even though my husband is a farmer and earns money, I work to help him during these difficult times as we need to work together to overcome any challenge.

Ms Lakolako said if there was one thing she could share with other young women, it was this always think positive.

“You can earn money from anywhere. It’s just how you view that opportunity or situation.

“My advice to youths is to not stop at where you are but instead work hard, think ahead and think of the future.

“Even though there are times you will face negativity in your life, always be positive in what you are aiming to do, because if there’s a will, there’s a way.”

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