Olivia George, a mother of four children, used to spend her days at the Honiara Central market, selling fresh fish from Central province. Together with her husband George Uliu, this has been their source of livelihood.
Residing at Mbokonavera 5, the global threat of the coronavirus became real when government declared Honiara an emergency zone. Faced with the challenge of this pandemic, Olivia decided to explore other areas of work to prepare her family for the worst.
As the days go by under the State of Emergency, Olivia and George decided they need to have a plan. The fishing business was scaled down as they fear this is too risky when it comes to movement of people.
So when they heard one of Olivia’s cousins mentioning free distribution of seedlings by the government, they decided to take up backyard gardening as well.
Olivia gathered her four children after dinner every evening and gave them tasks as they planned for their mini garden.
All of the children have a task each. They started building small beds and a mini greenhouse, preparing for when the seedlings will be ready for collection.
Their 50 year old father, George was the one who continued to work in the fish business.
Since the state of emergency, every day is a challenge for the family. There are not many customers as it used to and they are struggling daily.
“The imagination of the closure of Honiara Central Market forces us to work each day since 80 percent of our income comes from the fish business”, Olivia said.
“My small baking at home is also affected since hawkers are not allowed. Our last hope was the main market”, she continued.
With faith, Olivia’s family began to pile ground from the nearby area, filling up the plant beds. The plant beds slowly started to fill out until there were 10 full beds together.
Then came the good news from the Agriculture Livelihood group.
Olivia’s family was one of the first ten residents to receive free nursery seedlings from the Ministry of Agriculture.
“I was so happy when the NARLDC called and said that my seedlings are ready and that I am also included in the first 10 people around Honiara.
“It is an honour and my first initiative that was supported by the government since the crisis”, she said.
It was a smile of joy when Olivia received her seedlings. A total of 60 seedlings altogether from the three different packets. Packchoi, Choisum and Saladia.
Olivia said that she will make sure the 60 seedlings are well kept in order to sustain her family in the coming months.
“This will sustain my family for weeks if we look after our stock wisely. Some we will consume while some we might sell”, she said.
“My children do not go to school at the moment, so they will also help out in keeping our mini garden,” Olivia added.
She expressed her biggest appreciation to NARLDC for this initiative. She said at least this will support her family during this time of COVID-19.
“I would like to give a special thanks to the head authorities in making this become a reality and for their efforts in ensuring my family to survive through this crisis,” Olivia said.
She encouraged families in the city to start making good use of the space they have around their house.
Olivia said she will continue with this, even after the COVID-19 crisis.
“I will keep doing this farming practice because I see it’s the only way to assist my family during and after this pandemic threat.
“And also I will teach my children to make sure they get to involve more in farming since this is sustainable and reliable,” Olivia said.