Wednesday, June 6, 2007

A friend of the hungry ones

This story is adapted from the FIji Times,Wednesday June 6th, 2007

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THERE is good reason why boarding school students gravitate towards anyone that can provide them with food.
The term hungry boarders' is nothing new.
With what always seems to be the limited serves that are dished out in school dining halls, having someone around who can help satisfy the extra pangs is counted a blessing even when one has to buy it.
Makereta Moroivalu makes a living every day out of providing the extras at Queen Victoria School in Tailevu. The 42-year-old is married with kids at the nearby Lawaki Village.
She would easily be the students' best friend because of her hot qulaqula and bhajiya (Indian savouries) and juice she sells at the school.
Bubu Ma as she fondly known said the work she does might sound easy to some but her day starts early in the morning.
"My day starts every 4 o'clock in the morning and in the cold weather we are experiencing right now it is not easy," she said.
Every morning she mixes a 10 kilogram bag of flour for both the qulaqula and the rourou.
"I have to prepare the ingredients the night before. This includes the garlic, ginger, rourou and other spices that are added to the mixture.
"As soon as I wake up in the morning I prepare the flour and as well as the firewood to start frying," she said.
She said the food tasted better when it was cooked on firewood.
Bubu Ma said she did not have to do the job alone because her husband helped out every morning.
"It is really a big job and my husband Jone helps me get the job done before I prepare for my children to send them off to school," she said.
"This has been the greatest source of income for my family apart from fishing that my husband does.
"But then again his going out to the sea largely depends on the weather."
Full of life and enthusiasm, there never has been a day when Bubu Ma returns home with her bags still full.
Sitting under a mango tree near the school building, Bubu Ma is the first person the 700 plus students visit every recess time.
A pack of qulaqula and rourou costs 50cents and a bottle of juice ranges from 50cents to $1.00.
To compliment her products, Bubu Ma also sells whatever fruit is in season.
"During the ivi season I would sell ivi and since mandarin season is here I also bring them over to sell," she said.
Bubu Ma makes about $45-$50 a day, which for her is not bad business at all.
But business is not what her time at the school is everything about.
"Not all students have money all the time and there is always the pleading and asking that I have come to understand," she said.
"They would call me aunty, bubu and other nice names just so they can get a free packet. Some even turn up with only 15cents and ask for a packet and I would give it to them," she said.
"As a mother I always feel for these children when they are hungry but at times they can be very annoying."
Bubu Ma has never had a dull moment sitting under the mango tree with her baskets of food.
She said some students would tell her stories to get her into a good mood before asking for food. "So I give them a pack for the funny stories and for keeping me company," she said with a smile.