When Vara first started coming to Rakiraki market to sell cabbage, she found very poor working conditions:
“I noticed that there were a lot of elderly women from the village sitting on the ground and selling their produce. It was very dirty, very unhygienic, and it was smelling most of the time.”
When Cyclone Winston came in 2016 - it took everything - including the market and women's livelihoods. As Vara noted: “it took our house, it took the school where our children learn from, it took our churches, and it also took our market, something that the women of Rakiraki rely on."
Through Vara's advocacy, a new Rakiraki market was built (with support from the Governments of Fiji and Australia and implemented by UN Women in partnership with UNDP).
As a result, Vara is very positive that the women market vendors are more resilient: “this market has also become an evacuation centre. You know when Cyclone Harold came, this market was here. The vendors were safe here. Since this market is built to category 5 standard, the vendors are very assured that if another Winston came, we would be safe in this market."