Nokonoko leaves early to get a good spot

Mereoni Nokonoko of Delailasakau Village in Naitasiri sells fresh produce at the Sawani border. Picture: VILIAME RAVAI

Like many Naitasiri villagers, Mereoni Nokonoko left Delailasakau at 3.30am, crossed the Waidina River and rushed to the Sawani containment border in a bid to get a good spot to sell her produce.

But when she reached the border at 6am, she was surprised to find people already trading.

“We had no choice, we had to wait from the time we arrived to when the first lot sold their crops and moved off before we could start selling ours,” the 52-year-old grandmother said.

“We didn’t want to force our way through because we had to respect the fact that other villagers got up earlier than us and travelled further than us to get here first.”

Ms Nokonoko said the hardest part about waiting was trying to ignore her hunger pangs.

“Because I got up so early, I did not have time to have breakfast, but I had to wait until I sold something, so I could have a cup of tea.”

She said one of the biggest challenges traders faced was having a hygienic space to sell goods.

“Sometimes, our crops get dusty and dirty and we have to keep cleaning them, sometimes we can’t sell our produce because there are not enough people coming to buy at the border like before.

“And the place needs to be kept dry, when it rains, it gets very cold and muddy and people can catch colds and other sicknesses easily, it would be nice if it were dry and we had tables.”

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