When I visited Vuo village near Malau Timber Mill I was eating in a house when an Indian woman came to the door with a plastic bag to collect left-over kora ni niu grated coconut. . The people spoke to one another in Fijian and Hindustani. After she left they told me that Nangama came to the village every day about midday and visited every Fijian house. Usually the left-over coconut after squeezing out the juice is fed to the chickens or put in the rubbish bin.
This woman was a widow and lived up on the rocky hillside above the mangroves. Each day she took her plastic bags back to her house to squeeze the coconut fragments again and again to make more coconut cream. Then she boiled this to make oil. She bottled the oil to sell back to the village.
As her small piece of land was so rocky she had to get a truckload of soil so she could plant vegetables next to her tin-walled hut. She grew eggplant, cabbage, chillies and other vegetables and sold them around the village to support her two children.
This story amazed me that a woman with so little could be so resourceful.
This was a lesson to the Fijian villagers about patience and hard work and shows that the Indian people can flourish in Fiji. This is the hard but persistent life of Nangama a descendent of indentured Indians who came to Fiji in the 1870s to work in the sugar-cane fields. Many of the girmit descendants are now successful farmers or businessmen but there are also widows like Gangama who have to survive by their wits and hard work.