By Josie Wong
With her red gloves and apron, she starts to work every morning at 6AM and opens her fish stall. This lady is Luz, the owner of the fish stall that my partner and I are working on. While people usually put on a poker face or fake smile when they meet a stranger, Luz gave me a completely different impression during our first encounter.
The first time I met Luz was when some coursemates and I were chilling in a bar next to the sea, where Luz usually goes every day to get the fresh catches for her stall. She came to me with her warm smile and greeted me with a hug. While I was still adapting to this awkward moment when I met a stranger, she then began to talk about her family and told me that her husband and daughter have passed away 11 years ago. I think this might perhaps explain why Luz was so happy when she saw me as it reminded her of her deceased daughter. When she told me about this, I was a bit surprised and shocked and I would have never expected that someone would tell a person who she just knew few minutes ago about the sad things she has experienced.
Soon after the short encounter with Luz, we met her again in the opening ceremony, where we officially met the owners or representatives of all the business. This marked the start of our business project. We followed Luz to her stall in the fish market and she started to talk about her business. Her fish stall has started to operate since 1986 and she mainly relies on her experience to remember all the prices and details of her business.
In order to understand more about the suppliers of her fish stall, we decided to go to the fishing port in Bunga Mar with Luz on the next day to observe the process of purchasing fish for her stall. Along the way, we got to know more about the personality of Luz and her future plan. Not only did she tell us how she overcame her hard times when she lost two of her loved ones in the same year, but she also introduced us her adopted son. She treated her adopted son like her real son and we could see their close relationship simply by looking at their interaction. She got extremely depressed after the death of her loved ones and cried every day. Thus, her neighbors suggested her to adopt a child when they saw this kid in the market. When she was sharing her story, it immediately reminded me of my own experience of losing my loved one and how hard I tried to recover from that pain. With this similar experience, I began to appreciate her bravery in overcoming the pain and becoming a business lady to manage her own stall.
You would have never thought that this strong business entrepreneur would have such a kind heart to her friends. She shared with us that she helped her neighbors during their hard times when they needed money to repay the debts. She sold her own necklace and got a large sum of money, then borrowed it to her friends. Luz got the kindest heart to treat all her friends like her family members.
While we were waiting for the boat to come, we discovered that one of her cousins is a fisherman and one of her suppliers is her cousin. Luz then told us the business plan suggested by her cousin that she might be able to purchase a boat and then borrow it to fishermen for fishing every day. It may help her business to expand, which is one of the goals of our business project on her fish stall.
Given that most commercial activities have already moved towards automation and artificial intelligence, Luz is still relying on her memory for the operation of her business, which is extremely challenging in the modern day. While we always keep saying how difficult life is and unfortunate we are, there is never an end in life. Her bravery, kindness and passion are what we should learn from.