Sixty-eight-year old mother, Maria Palesala, is a grateful woman.
Working as a housekeeper to support her family, she is thankful she has a job.
“I know it’s very hard for a family to hire someone like me to work for them, but I’m grateful that there are people who can still see the best in me no matter how old I am,” she said.
Maria has seven children. They are still in Primary School.
“To tell you the truth it’s not that easy. Sometimes my husband wants to give up because of money problems...but I told him that no matter how old I am, I have to go to work to support my children in school.”
Most of the money she makes goes to her children’s education.
“My children are my gift. If I can’t give them the best I can today, they will suffer.”
“I don’t want to see them struggling in life that’s why they need to be in school.”
Yesterday, they were each given $1 for their lunch.
“That’s all I had,” she said.
“It’s very important for them to get education. We can’t afford to eat good meals most times, but our children have to eat in school.”
“I prefer to be poor myself as long as my children get good education.”
“If they can go to university in the future, I’ll work something out so they can go.”
Maria does not expect her children to pay her back but she wants them to live a better life.
“I want them to have better lives...to be independent. If they give me money, then good but if they don’t, I’m happy just to know that they can survive on their own.”
She added that her dream has always been to own her food stall.
“No matter how hard it is, I have to continue doing what I’m doing now, just so I can settle the future of my children first.”
“It really isn’t easy at times, but I tell myself that at least I still have my two hands, and so I can work and hopefully make a better life for them.”
However, money continues to be a problem.
“There were times that we didn’t have money, but as a mother I always look for ways to find a $10 to buy rice for my children.”
“Sometimes we had to take money from relatives when we have fa’alavelaves and other obligations. My pay is $150 a week.”
“I have to stretch that money to meet our daily needs every week, but I always take my children as my first priority.”