Raising three children without a father is a life most young women do not anticipate, especially in Solomon Islands where the cost of living soars almost every month.For Lily Mae, a single mother of three, from Gwale village in West Kwaio, Malaita Province, it is a great challenge for her to make ends meet for her children.
Employed by the Solomon Islands National Union of Workers (SINUW), Ms. Mae said that as a grade six leaver in 1991 from Fouba Primary School in West Kwaio, she is content with her current job.
"I work as a cleaner for SINUW and my job is to maintain the cleanliness of the surrounding areas and in the building, and I enjoy it," Ms. Mae said.
She said that "cleaning has always been my hobby" as she has always been responsible to help around the house from a very young age.
Ms. Mae said that for most young women, "being a cleaner is the last on their list but I enjoy it very much and always enjoy my days at work".
At the age of 28, Ms. Mae said that her strive to keep at her job are her three children.
"Nowadays it is hard to find a job and if you raise children like me without a husband to support you, you will learn to appreciate whatever little job you can get to earn an income to support your children," she said.
The cheerful single mother said that she has to juggle playing the role of a father and a mother to her children.
"I am not saying life is easy, there are challenges I face when I can't afford to meet my children's needs and wants because of high prices of things in the shops, and the constant high demands from close family members," Ms. Mae said.
She said that through the years, she has learnt to "spend money only on what is very important".
"I am so lucky because my three children understand when I tell them that mummy does not have enough money to pay for what they want."
Ms. Mae said that despite challenges faced, "I make sure I find ways to make ends meet and budget well to cater with my fortnight salary".
"My advice to other single mothers who are struggling with their children, or any other unemployed ones out there is, don't wait for money to come to you. You have to go out there and look for it, money does not fall from trees but through your sweat, you will have money at the end of the day," she said.
"For those who are fortunate to have completed their education and earned a degree or masters, don't just wait around and expect that a job will come looking for you. You have to get up and start looking," Ms. Mae said.
She said that being content in life keeps her little family very happy "because it does not matter how big or small your salary is, the most important thing is you have something to keep you functioning and alive."