The National, Thursday 13th September, 2012
A NEW fish market at Rearea village, Central, is helping women cut down travelling time to sell their products, thanks to the support from Esso Highlands Ltd, the operator of the liquefied natural gas project.
“Before we had the market, we would wait three or four hours for a PMV to take us into town to sell our fish,” Rearea Community Women’s Group secretary Igo Sere said.
“Sometimes we’d get to the market late in the afternoons, and would have to sell the fish very cheaply so that we could come back to the village quickly.”
If it became too late for the women to make the trip into town, they would spread mats on the sand or an old foot bridge connecting the main Rearea village to the mainland to sell fish, other seafood and locally–harvested garden produce.
Then, through a forum established with help from Esso, they decided to build a hygienic and safe market.
“Our husbands and sons helped us to build some shelters using timber from the bush or from mangroves around here.
“We’d bring our fish and other food here in the morning, sell them and go home.
“We were making money in a market we had built ourselves. We are so proud, so happy,” Sere said.
Esso land and community affairs manager Jimmy Canning said the Rearea team had been running training and other activities with the women, but the fish market was something they could really be proud of.
“When we saw what great effort and initiative these women were showing to improve their own conditions, we started talking with them about building a permanent market,” he said.
Esso Highlands Ltd provided materials and a skilled builder to oversee the construction of the new market.
The market has given the women an opportunity to charge user fees to people from nearby villages.
They plan to use the money they had raised to develop a mini bakery business.
Rearea councillor Leviri Ova said the work done by Esso Highlands Ltd in their village was helping them to focus on activities that would benefit the people instead of a few individuals.
“I want my village people to remember that this market was given to us almost free of charge.
“It now belongs to us and we must look after it.
“In that way, we will all continue to benefit from it for a long time.”