By Joshua Mani
STORIES of human kindness and the spirit of sharing emerge during times of disaster and hardship.
One is about Binas Aoro, the mother of four from Enga living with her family at North Waigani, Port Moresby.
Binas is married to Misol Benjamin also from Enga. He works at the Simberi gold mine in New Ireland as a mill supervisor. He splits his time between family and work.
Binas supplements her husband’s income by operating a trade store and an informal market selling items such as biscuits, soft drinks, phone cards, buai and vegetables. She buys fresh garden produce from farmers in Central.
When restrictions were imposed in late March after the Covid-19 State of Emergency was declared, she was forced to stop her informal market vending and the trade store.
“ So I used some of the money I saved from my market sales to buy them food and other necessities.”
The family was okay as her husband continued working. But Binas noticed that some people including her relatives and her husband’s who depended on betel nut trading were suffering as they had no money to buy food.
“We were alright but my husband’s tribesmen and my tribesmen who live in settlements did not have much to survive on. They were running out of food as they depended heavily on the sale of buai. So I used some of the money I saved from my market sales to buy them food and other necessities.
“When the buai sale was stopped, it cut off their life-line. They did not have anything else. No jobs, nothing.”
She was also forced to close the store because of the ban on public transport. She distributed food in the store to her extended family.
“I couldn’t keep the store running because I was not able to move around. Giving food items such as rice and tins of fish was a good decision because they would have expired anyway. I also brought some for myself and the children to eat.”
She knows she had done a good thing.
“This little help I gave at the least helped the families through the lockdown without them starving.”
Now that the rules have been relaxed, her table market business is back although the store remains closed.
Business is slow but picking up as people start moving around again. She thinks some people are still scared of the coronavirus and are not spending .
“Another thing is that buai brings customers to the table markets. I don’t chew but I sell it as people come to buy it and then they buy soft drinks or biscuits at the same time. It is a very profitable business. A bag bought for K300 and nuts resold for K1 each can earn you K400. A big bag bought for K1,000 can earn you K1,500. That is why people go crazy over it.”
And the families she had helped are slowly putting their lives back together. She is glad that she was able to help them when they were in trouble.