World News Day: Fijians overcome hardship by bartering for goods and services

September 28, 2020 - 07:24
Out of the depths of despair over the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of courage, resilience, kindness and selflessness have emerged across the globe.


Ms Temalesi Tauga with her six-year-old daughter Keran Alice at their Kalekana home in the Fijian capital city of Suva. Ms Tauga now has an almost-new stove, a full cylinder of gas and ingredients to start a baking business, after putting up a request for help on the Barter for Better Fiji page on Facebook. — Photo FIJI SUN

Ms Temalesi Tauga, 42, just wanted some tamarind so she could kick-start a little business of her own to support her five children and 72-year-old mother.

Now she has an almost-new stove, a full cylinder of gas and ingredients to start a baking business.

Her plea for help on a social media page designed to encourage the barter system showed the acts of kindness Fijians are known for.

She is not alone. The Barter for Better Fiji page on Facebook has seen many people helped.

Ms Tauga works as a house-girl. But since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, there have not been many opportunities.

"You can imagine my surprise when people started helping me. I was given groceries, one person gave me empty bottles for my tamarind chutney, but above all, I have been given a chance to help my children," she said.

Mr Mafi Mataika was going through Barter for Better Fiji when he came across Ms Tauga's request.

"I had an old oven and I decided to give it to her. Mr and Mrs Khan from Khalsa Road had a gas cylinder, so I picked it up and delivered it to her. We will be going back to her with baking ingredients and some more items," he said.

Mr Mataika said an anonymous donor gave money for groceries for the single mum. Ms Tauga said she was grateful to God and all those who had helped.

Hers is just one heartwarming example that the Barter for Better Fiji Facebook page has created.

The Facebook barter page was set up by Ms Marlene Dutta.

It aims to help people facing financial constraints to barter. It was a natural solution as money became tight and hard to come by.

"In the spirit of the giving nature of members on this page - we ask that if you are asking for donations or to help people in dire need, also offer something/anything in return to ensure that the rules of barter apply.

"If commenters offer to donate for nothing in return, that is awesome - but we must be true to our purpose. We ask for your understanding in this," Ms Dutta said.

Another example of how the Barter for Better Fiji page has helped someone comes from Nadi, the hub of what was once a thriving tourism industry in the western part of Fiji.

There, Ms Len Yusuf sold cakes and pastries despite the effects of COVID-19.

Looking for an empty gas cylinder, she posted her request on the Barter page. Little did she know that she would get two empty gas cylinders, a few fish and coconuts.

She was surprised to see Ms Alice Fong, who had travelled for more than 1½ hours from Ba to visit her.

She managed to exchange her chocolate and custard pies with someone else for more fresh fish, coconuts and a brand new pair of shoes. — FIJI SUN