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Mayra Arfona, offering a Healthy Alternative to re-hydrate

Mayra Arfona, offering a Healthy Alternative to re-hydrate
June 21
19:15 2019

You may have driven past her, or you may have stopped at her yellow tent on Coney Drive to patronize her coconut water business; but whatever day you have seen or communicated with Mayra Arfona, you would have quickly gathered that here is a single mother who is struggling to feed her children, but doing it in a noble way and while serving you with a smile.

Behind that smile is a sad story of a woman who was abandoned as a little girl. Born in El Salvador 34 years ago, Marya’s life from then was an uphill struggle, having been abandoned by her own birth mother while still a child. She came to Belize with a relative, where she later met up with her father at age 11. She never attended school, and from very young, her only lessons were learning how to labour to make a living. Her first business was a fast food venture with an estranged husband.

She told the Reporter that the business flopped because of a bad legal separation she endured. It forced her to walk away from it all – home, business and investment. But that her father, who himself had just found that the coconut can be harvested commercially as a means of income, encouraged Mayra to join him in his small business six years ago in Ladyville.

“This da my pa idea. He start do this in Ladyville, and he seh to me, ‘daughter, why you nuh do this same thing and start over?'” Soh I start do it in 2013. I used to pull the coconut, pack them, and I come, chop it, and sell it.”

When her father saw that she could be as successful as he, equipped with the skills to chop 600 coconuts each day and sell the water and meat, he encouraged her further to get a small pick-up truck and go solo. She took that advice as well and has been earning her keep on her own.

Now, that one man’s idea to harvest the coconut has taken root among quite a few people who make a living around the country selling the refreshing water as a healthy option of cooling down in the unforgiving heat. It all came from one man’s idea of making a living and passing that idea onto his daughter who needed to self-sustain.

Mayra says she and her common-law husband buy the coconuts from farmers in Orange Walk daily and he brings them to Belize City, where she harvests the fruit for its water and meat. She bottles the water and bags the meat and sells the chilled products from under her yellow tent, set up right next to her small pick-up truck parked at the side of the road on Coney Drive.

But while she herself thinks nothing of chopping open 600 coconuts in day to make a living, Mayra says she honestly does not want to see her two boys have to do the same thing to earn their keep. She says she uses her sacrifices now, using the coconut to create an income to send them to school as a stepping stone for them to perhaps put themselves in a position to make more use of the coconut fruit, like harvesting the meat that is now being discarded to extract its milk for sale or to make coconut ideal.

When asked if she misses her birth place, Mayra responded, “I never think about going back to Salvador because of my life there as a child. …When you have a puppy, da puppy think ih owner da everything to him, until da owner abandon him and then only God deh with da puppy. That was me and my life before now. God have me here now. I nuh want goh back.”

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