Mothers of Nailou: Women fund canteen to build evacuation centre

Nailou Mother’s Club executives Maria Iowana, left, and Usenia Senimakita inside their shop at Nailou Village. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA

Despite the challenges, Maria Iowana has shouldered the responsibilities of being the president of the Nailou Women’s Club.

The village, Nailou, sits in the district of Tunuloa in the province of Cakaudrove and has no road access so villagers depend on boats or treks through the forest.

But despite this, the group has worked wonders and built a canteen, funded for the construction of a village evacuation centre and a hall.

“It’s not easy being a leader for a committee in any village, especially when there is no road and we have to walk through the forest for hours to access public transport services,” Ms Iowana said.

“We can also hire boats to get to Wailevu Village where the bus reaches so it’s not easy for us, but I have never lost hope.

“I have believed in our members and because of them, we have been able to achieve our dreams.”

Ms Iowana, who is from Tavuki in Taveuni, carries out her duties under challenging circumstances as the village is isolated.

Walking hours through rough terrain towards Napuka Catholic Parish has also been part of her duty as the president.

Sometimes she walks at night or in the early hours of the morning.

“When I need to go to Savusavu to buy some things for our canteen or lodge forms or reports with the Ministry of Women, I need to catch the bus from Napuka so I leave the village between 3am and 4am.

“That’s part of my responsibility as the group leader and I have accepted it because if I don’t do it, who else will do it.

“As a leader, our duty is to serve and it’s an enjoyable task to do that.”

The group depends on income from the sea to operate their business.

“It’s not easy doing this because sometimes we buy fish from our customers and when we take it to Karoko Village to sell it, they already have enough in their freezer.

“So we bring it back to the village and sell it ourselves or we just share it to the families for their meals.”

These challenges, she said had strengthened the resolve of the group to achieve their development goals.

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