At 20 years of age, Lucy has two sons. Her eldest child is now three years old while her youngest is a bit over 12 months.
She left school when she was only in form two at Mboeni High School. Today, Lucy joins other roadside vendors at Kombito, Aola.
“We sell mostly food for those at the logging camps, travelers passing our way and also those in the village who have money”.
The road to Aola is long, bumpy and dusty. The distance from Honiara to Kombito where Lucy now resides is more than 50km.
Some rainy days it will be hard to access the village because of running water and streams. Despite the distance, people from Aola to Longgu often frequent the road from their home villages to Honiara.
The return fare via public wheel transport ranges from $200 to $300. For Lucy, it is $200 to Honiara and back.
“We only go to town when necessary. So usually we just save the money we earn from our market until it is enough”, Lucy says.
Beside a grassy dusty road, Lucy sets her market where consumers can select the fish they want, straight from the BBQ plate, sizzling hot. Lucy sells fried fish, cooked cassava, banana, rice and green coconuts. Woven coconut baskets are used instead of plastic bags or plastic takeaway containers. The fish ranges from $20 to $60 depending on the size.
“Some of the fish we get from the river as well as the sea. The food we sell here are from our natural resources”.
The Aola seafront is one of the best on Guadalcanal. Its bay is recorded in history books on the Guadalcanal campaign as a significant site for the allied forces during World War II. The area was supposed to be an airfield but the plan did not eventuate. The earth was swampy plus tree stumps with deep tangled roots were said to slow the process of clearing the ground. Thus the plan for an airstrip was abandoned and an airstrip built at the grassy plain of Volinavua at Koli point.
Today a logging camp and sea port is now located at the Aola seafront. Despite the logging activities, there, people from the area are still able to catch fish from the surrounding islands.
“A lot of the logging trucks come past our way here. There is also a logging camp not far from here. So despite the remoteness of our market, we also have our customers”, Lucy says.
Lucy’s husband takes care of the children while she tends to their business. Their house is not far from the market house, thus it is easy for them to manage their children.
She says they shared their responsibilities accordingly.
Lucy’s husband does the fishing and gardening while Lucy tends to the roadside market business.
Her husband occasionally visits her at the market house with their youngest child. The eldest is usually at home with his father’s relatives.
“I am originally from Monga. But since I got married, I moved here to Kombito”, Lucy says.
$300 to $600 is her daily takings depending on the price of the food.
She says life is good for her especially since she does not need much money to sustain her family. Most of the food is from the garden as well as the sea and water.
To access health services, she usually goes to Aola health center not far from where she resides.
Aola health center has been earmarked by the government for renovation with funding from the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
It is under the government’s programme known as the Role Delineation Policy. It is the country’s roadmap towards universal health coverage.
Refurbishment of the Aola health center is said to bring major improvements to its current services, especially in maternal and child health.
“To get to the clinic we also board public transport like trucks because we have no buses working here. It is only $10 to get to the clinic”, Lucy says.
Aola is located in the East Central Guadalcanal constituency.
Traveling between the villages in the Aola and Longgu area are made easier by roads constructed by logging operators.
The so-called government roads are often muddy and not fit for vehicles when it comes to wet weather.
Land issues and conflicts are said to be obstacles to the development and improvement of such infrastructure in the district.