By JOYCE INGIPA
BERITA Ale earns a living from flowers. She plants and sells them on a roadside in Port Moresby.
Berita, 50, is from Mul in Gumine, Chimbu. Life in the village is the same as in city because one has to work hard to survive.
“Living in the village is similar to living in the city because one way or another, you still have to work to survive. In the village, people toil the land to survive. In the city we work in different ways to survive.”
Berita never completed her schooling because when she was around 13, a man in the village came to ask for her hand in marriage. In the village, her family had to accept.
“I never had a chance to go to school as my husband came and asked for my hand in marriage when I was about 13 or 14. My family agreed because in the highlands, when a man comes to a girl’s house wanting to marry her, he is respected by the whole community.
“He paid my bride price to my parents and relatives.”
The young couple moved to Port Moresby in 1984. All their three sons were born in the city. The youngest is now in Grade 11 at Gerehu Secondary School.
“He died in 2010 leaving me to look after my children and now six grandchildren. I have remarried to a Chimbu man who helps me with my flower business.”
She has been in the flower business since she arrived in Port Moresby. Her impromptu market is on the roadside near a major supermarket in Gordon. People stop there to buy flowers.
“My two elder sons are not employed. So they and their wives help me plant flowers.”
Berita, her sons and their wives are also hired by the National Capital District Commission contractors as street cleaners.
“We clean around the city in the morning before coming here to our market spot at Gordon to sell our flowers and plants.”
She grows the flowers at her home in Morata and at 17-Mile along the Sogeri Road.
She sells plants and cuts flowers to be used for decorations.
“I sell my seedlings for K3 to K20 depending on the size and plant type. Customers buy them to replant in their backyards. For cut flowers, I sell a bundle for K5 and loose ones for K3.”
She has noticed that competition in the flower business has increased with more women involved.
“ Living in the village is similar to living in the city because one way or another, you still have to work to survive. In the village, people toil the land to survive. In the city we work in a different way to survive.”
“I am grateful for the K200 or K300 I make each week because at least I have money to put food on the table for my family and pay my son’s fare and lunch money.
“SDA church members come on Fridays to buy cut flowers. Other church members come on Saturdays to buy theirs for Sunday. Office workers buy any time during the day for decorations or when hosting special events.”
She travels to her home in Chimbu from time to time to visit her family.
“I travel home every chance I get when I make enough money. However, I’m not making the type of money I use to make before.”
She believes that life on earth is not a bed of roses as one has to work hard to survive.
“If you are committed and hardworking in whatever little you do, God will always bless you at the end of the day.”