ENTERPRISING FIJI KIDS GETTING BY ON ‘BU’

Feature

By Paula Tagivetaua SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec.9, 2010) – In Fiji., if you go past Grantham Road toward the Raiwaqa market in Suva, you will see a group of boys selling bu or young coconut for their milk and soft succulent flesh every day, in the rain or sun.

Their cover is the shade of a mango tree.

Bu is deemed the freshest drink in the world because it does not need to be purified or sweetened.

The juice you get when you open a fresh, young coconut is not like any other juice manufactured or otherwise.

One of the boys selling bu is Sunia Koroi.

I have known the lad for some time, ever since the first time he called at home with a brush-cutter slung across his shoulders asking if he could mow our compound.

I knew he lived down Browning Street way and was working for a dollar or two to give home at the end of the day to meet his daily sustenance.

I admire young boys such as Sunia and others who are looking for work one way or the other to earn a few bucks to help mum and dad.

That is why when Sunia asked if he could cut our grass, I gave him a new charge more than I had charged any brush-cutter.

I contracted him to cut our grass every three weeks or when he saw fit.

After some time, Sunia stopped coming to cut our grass and when I met and asked him, he said his brush-cutter was down.

The next time I saw the lad was with other boys, some of them I knew from when they were toddlers, selling bu.

At least, they are doing something legal to earn a few bucks and not crossing to the other side of the law.

Some people think of bu sellers as thieves who steal coconuts from around the area to sell.

I always argue; if the coconut owners cannot climb the tree, why leave it to waste?

Better to give it to people who can climb the tree and get the coconuts and take to sell.

They would surely give some of the bu to the tree owner but for the common good, better to give it to the boys or people who need it more than you.

Sunia and his gang sell bu for FJ$1 [US 50 cents] each.

How much do they earn?

"Oh, it depends, he said. It is not big money. It depends on the people who stop by and buy one or two. Really, we get by with the few dollars we earn in a day which we share."

At a minimum, if Sunia's gang sells 10 bu a day, they would rake in more than FJ$50 [US$27] by the weekend.

Like the lad said, it is not big money but enough for them to get by in these demanding times.

At least, they are earning their keep on this side of the law.

That is what counts.

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