Women take up men’s roles

Koini Talei Naiobasali with her groceries at Sawani. Picture: VILIAME RAVAI

Apart from the psychological trauma on individuals and families caused by COVID-19, women in some villages have had to take on roles normally held by their husbands.

Koini Talei Naiobasali has not seen her husband in about three months because of COVID-19 movement restrictions.

He was planting yaqona on Kadavu when inter-island travel bans were enforced and could not return to their home in Korovou, Naitasiri.

She said with him away, she has had to take on the role of father to their child and run the family store.

“It is very hard to travel twice a week to Sawani to buy groceries for our shop because I have to cross the Waidina River by boat to reach the road that leads to the main road,” the 38-year-old mother of one said.

“And because my husband is away on the island, I have to do some farming and fishing to ensure we have food at home.

“Our 14-year-old son is a big blessing because he always helps me and the villagers are also very supportive.”

Ms Naiobasali said after recognising the challenges Korovou villagers had in accessing cash, she took the initiative to become an M-PAiSA agent.

She said the women from Korovou were very innovative and strong – they were always ready to embrace new technology and, at the same time, were the first ones to the farm in the mornings.

However, her biggest wish was for border and movement restrictions to be lifted so her husband could return home.

“He usually returns home every one or two months but this has been the longest he has been away.

“In April, just as he was about to come home, Government announced the restriction of movement from the outer islands to the mainland and vice versa.

“We call each other every day and he said that once Government lifts the travel ban, he will sail on the first available boat.”

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