It may not seem like much, just a few makeshift stalls that is used to sell traditional homecooked meals. But with this Doreen Biku, a mother of three, has been able to put her children through formal education despite the hardships faced by market vendors.

“I am the mother of three girls, my first daughter will be studying teaching this year at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) while my second daughter will be attending secondary school doing form 4, my last-born daughter will be in grade five this year,” said Doreen, sipping on bottled water.

“So, I can say being a market vendor saved me and my family, for the last 10-plus years now, me and my husband have worked hard to feed and educate our daughters.

"This year I think it could be a tough year for me and my husband since our eldest daughter is now in university, but that will just make us work harder,” said a determined Doreen.

Doreen Biku is from Letongo, Sunfly Island, in Central Islands province. She and ten other women from the same community sell traditionally baked food at the central market in Honiara.

"I leave my family at home and travel to Honiara to sell food here at the central market. The boat hire from my village to Honiara is $700, which is so expensive for me. So, I must find other women in my same village to contribute towards the fuel money.

"On the Island, we are lucky because we have access to plenty of marine resources and livelihood for generating activities to earn an income to support our family’s basic needs,” Doreen said.

The mother of three says that being a market vendor is not easy, with a typical day starting at 4 am, and getting home after dark. She says that sometimes they are forced to sleep at the market when it gets late to return to Sunfly Island.

“Even here at the central market we face many challenges, everywhere is full and occupied by the resellers, the only space is the walkway, where I can display my home-cooked food. The market officers also charge $30, and $5 for using the shower.

“Sometimes I have to go outside to sell the leftover food when the market is closed and return to the market to sleep if it is late,” Doreen said, pointing out the area where they sleep.

Doreen says over the years she has learned to save the small amount of money that she makes and is thankful that her husband is very supportive.

“He always let me budget our money, and because of this we can educate our daughters, he does not drink beer or demand money, he just helps me with fishing and preparation of food, so I am very lucky.”