In this second part of Sista i Shine, Janet Maki talks about how she doesn’t let the loss of her arm in a car accident in 2008 define or limit her and that it just means she has learnt how to create her own style of doing things.
‘People Think I Can’t Drive Because I Have One Hand. I Can Still Drive.’
I am very proud of my business but I think my greatest accomplishment is being a mother. I waited a long time to have him. I was 36 years old when he was born. My family is the reason why I can work and be a mother. I have a lot of support.
I had my baby after my disability. Just because you’re disabled, life continues. You have to take it day by day. I don’t even see myself as disabled. It only makes me stronger because I have to think outside the box. In my mind, I just think, ‘If you can do it, then I can do it too.’ I just do it with my own style. Recently I was unable to squeeze because you need two hands to squeeze something like clothes for laundry. But now I have found a way to adjust my movements so I can squeeze. I find my own way of doing it.
In 2008 I lost my arm in an accident. I was scared when they told me that I was handicap and that I wouldn’t be the same. I thought, ‘Is it true’? But then when I left the hospital, I realized it’s not true. I do things that normal girls can’t do. People think I can’t drive because I only have one hand. I can still drive and normal girls can’t. I have a business and normal girls don’t. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, having a disability makes me grateful for all the things I am able to do.
‘Wherever you find yourself, do your best and try to improve’
I think that everybody is able to do something. But you need to find the will and courage to move first. If you don’t move, nothing will happen. When I go to Seaside and the boys on the street are asking me for 50vt, I say to them, ‘If you wash my car, I’ll give you 500vt’. So instead of getting 50vt for doing nothing, they get 500vt for doing something. Always find something to do to try to make your life better. It can change your life and bring you money.
Ni-Vanuatu Women Are Letting Themselves Down
The biggest challenge that Ni-Vanuatu women have to face is their shyness or fear of communicating. I don’t know what it is but I do know they need to talk. Even in their homes, I see husbands and boyfriends talking but the women just nod their heads and stay quiet.
Lots of Ni-Vanuatu women are letting themselves down. For example if they are working in a restaurant and the boss thinks they did something wrong, they just accept it. Instead of standing up for themselves because they didn’t do something wrong, they just stay quiet and the problem doesn’t get solved. Our culture teaches us that even if a woman is right or wrong, stay quiet. But this isn’t good. Women are smashing themselves down.
Jealousy is another virus that’s killing us. If a woman is already in high position in her job, some of them don’t want to help other women. Others have knowledge but don’t want to share it. And if they die, the knowledge doesn’t get passed on. Why do you think we have schools? It’s so we can pass on knowledge. But some women don’t want to see others progressing. If they can destroy you, they will, so you can stay where you are.
In the future, I would like to see more women involving themselves. Women know how to find food for the kids even if there is no money. If they can manage their own homes, they can manage a business. Be independent and make your own money. Once you do that, you don’t need to be dominated by a man because you start to feel confident and feel like you can do everything. Maybe women will be in politics in Vanuatu one day.
Read Janet’s first article as she discusses cultural barriers that she believes economically disempowers women in Vanuatu.