Karolina Ruci shows off her catch of freshwater mussles
Sources of income for rural women living along the Rewa River are minimal compared to those who live near the sea.
Like those who live in the interior of Viti Levu, they have to be smart, tough and possess multi skills if they are to survive.
These are some of the challenges they face on a daily basis compared to those who have all the luxuries in the urban centres.
For Karolina Ruci,54, of Natoaika in Naitasiri such challenges has been part of her life for the past 30 years. She is single and supports her extended family by fetching kai or fresh water mussels from the Rewa River as her main source of income.
Ruci would accompany other women to the Suva Market to sell kai for one whole week before returning home every Saturday.
However, the women are not allowed to sell kai every week.
Restriction imposed by her chief the Qaranivalu Ratu Inoke Takiveikata only allows Ruci and women from her village to fetch kai from the Rewa River fortnightly.
Ratu Inoke had reasoned that allowing women to fetch mussels and sell them very week would only deplete the source.
At the market, Ruci sells her mussels for $3 to $4 a heap depending on the demand from customers.
Having to endure such hardships, Ruci made a choice to remain single for the rest of her life. She wants to live on her own and do things on her own ways.
"I have to live this way to survive.
Even though the risk is always there, we have to do this for a living.
Apart from earning money, we have to keep some for our daily consumption," Ruci said, adding that she earns $50 on busy days and was content with the income.
"Like other women we have to earn as much as we can because we have obligations. We have to pay fees for our students, bus fares and pay for other expenses," she said.
Ruci said fetching mussels from the river was not easy. She has to brave the cold for many hours before finally collecting more than enough to sell.
For those 30 years Ruci had come to know the season of the mussels and where to find them in abundance.
"We have been doing this work for years and it has helped us tremendously in many ways," she said.