A mother’s love for her child is second to none as this is a bond that is forged in the mother’s womb. Countless stories have been told of courageous efforts a mother would go for her children and the sacrifices they would make.
Chandra Kanta, 51, of Naria in Rakiraki is one such mother who has devoted her life to ensuring that her three sons lived better lives than she did. Her heavily callused hands are testament to the hard work put in through the years to get by in life being a single parent in a farming community.
The form four drop out of Rakiraki Public High School was only 20 years old when she was given away for marriage by her cane farming parents.
“I couldn’t get any good job because I had dropped out of school at only form 4 level and so I helped my mother with the her household chores and also my dad on the cane fields. So getting married at a young age was always a possibility,” Chandra said.
She got married to a cane cutter from Qalau in Rakiraki in 1982 but 17 years and three children later and still as poor as she had been; her husband left her to raise their three sons alone.
“I was brought up in a poor family and was again married to a cane cutter so it was a cycle of continuous poverty. When my husband left in 1999, I decided that the only way I was going to raise my children was by showing them that there is no substitute for hard work.”
A year before her husband left, she had managed to secure a vegetable stall at the Rakiraki market where she sold her backyard garden produce and the occasional produce bought from the middle man.
In 2000, Chandra purchased a 2 acre piece of land in Naria from what little she had saved and additional help from her family and relatives who all sympathised with her situation.
“I began planting vegetables on my land right away and my three boys assisted me a lot with this. I managed to build a house and see my children through their education. I also managed to upgrade to selling groceries such as onions, garlics, spices and rice by buying from wholesalers.”
“Throughout those three years, I have had to take on the full responsibilities of being a mother and a father. My sons supported me right through until they all finished their educations.”
In January 2013, the FDB Rakiraki branch approved an $8,000 loan for Chandra which she used to start her poultry farm.
“I’m thankful to FDB for the loan as it assisted me in the purchase of 300 layer birds, layer shed, cages, poultry feeds, 10 meat birds and likewise helped with the operational expenses for my stall.”
With a good record on her payments, FDB approved a second loan of $10,000 for her business allowing her to purchase a 2-tonne carrier easing her transportation woes. She now transports her vegetables and eggs to the market assisted by her son who drives the carrier for her.
“Eggs are a really good business because it is easy for me to manage and that everyone loves eggs. There is a big demand for it. I sell the crates for $10 and birds are producing around 8 crates a day.”
“I currently have just that one shed and I’m trying to speed up my payments so that I can go back to FDB for another loan to purchase a second shed. Looking back at how far I have come, I’m thankful and I couldn’t have done this without the assistance of my three sons and my desire to make life better for them. ”
Her eldest son is now a lecturer at the Fiji National University campus in Rakiraki and the second son is a service station attendant at Feroz Khan’s bowser in Rakiraki. The youngest assists her with the family business.
Chandra was dealt a tough hand early in life and yet with the motherly love and determination, she continues to push to new heights.