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The Iron Ladies of Kukum Market, Honiara, Solomon Islands
The "Iron Maidens" of Kukum Market - Grace, Veronica and Besty do a great job for the Council at the Market. Read about their work below (thanks to Shailendra Prasad from the Commonwealth Local Govt. Forum for the story and picture.
At first glance Ms Grace Ehakeni looks like any other ordinary lady in the Kukum Market but then from her Green Top it doesn't take long to realize that she is a s...taff of Honiara City Council, with revenue collector written in white on the back of her top.
She along with two other staff members, Ms Betsy Leinala, and Ms Veronica Tarifu manage the Kukum market. Betsy and Veronica are employed as cleaners, but they also assist Grace in managing the market.
Kukum market is located in the Kukum suburb of Honiara about 10 minutes drive from the City, during non-peak hours. It's the second market under the jurisdiction of Honiara City Council, with the first one being the major market in the City.
The overall management of the Kukum market falls under the Market Master based in the main City market, however with Grace's ability to work without much supervision ensures that the market is very well managed.
Part of the market is thatched with iron roofing, but there is no concrete floor, which means Grace, Betsy and Veronica have to work extra hard to clean the market after the vendors have left in the afternoon.
With no enforcement officers or securities available at night the 3 ladies take turns to sleep in the market storage room and have their spouses to watch the market and ensure that items left by vendors are not stolen.
Every afternoon Grace has to catch a bus and hand over the cash to the market master based in the city who reconciles the cash and processes it for banking. Grace then comes back to the market to ensure all the days tasks are done well before the market is closed.
The ladies have also taken the initiative to buy rakes from their own money to do the cleaning. The market has one wheelbarrow and Betsy and Veronica take turns to drive it around the market even during the day to pick the rubbish where possible.
Despite some of the operational difficulties, the ladies were smiling and their passion for the job showed in way they coordinated their tasks. These iron ladies work for passion, not for money.
Story and Photo Credit: Honiara City Council (HCC), Solomon Islands
You may also want to read Grace's story of inspiration documented by the WiLG here: http://wilgpacific.org/wilg2014/stories/solomon-islands/grace-ehakeni/