Children of Samoa deserve love, care and protection

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s been a wonderful week in sunny Samoa. 

With tourists, visitors, returning Samoans and locals alike basking in the glory of the 2018 Teuila Festival celebration and all the other sporting activities, it’s nice to see life and culture being celebrated with so much vigour and passion. Which is what it is all about.

We believe we are blessed to live in such a wonderful country, where we have so much to be grateful for. There is peace, freedom, love and joy to be shared with everyone. These are underpinned by our cultural values and Christian norms, which are the pillars of Samoa today. 

But days like today often bring out some of the issues we believe we should be truly concerned about. That for us is an old issue that appears to be getting worse by the day. You see, it’s hard to ignore that there are a growing number of children hawking goods on the streets on a daily basis. We are talking about young boys and girls at all hours of the day and night.

Now whether we agree or disagree about the existence of poverty in Samoa, the truth is staring at us in the face point blank.  Every day, everywhere in Samoa, young people are taking to the streets to find cash and food. 

We don’t mind the adults doing that. That should be their responsibility.

But children should not. They should be in school, instead, getting an education so they can go on to gain higher qualifications to secure jobs and the like. Children are not slaves and they should not be treated as such. As a community that cares, we cannot afford to ignore and allow the trend to continue as if it’s normal. 

Indeed, using young children to attract the sympathy of passersby, who are then forced to buy something from them or give them money, should be discouraged by everyone.

We agree that this is not a new issue. For years, this newspaper has been highlighting some pretty heart-breaking stories about these young people. 

“My mum asks me to come and sell this stuff so that we can get money,” one of them told this newspaper recently. “There are so many people in our household and we usually don’t have enough money and food.

“So the money I make every day and night, I give it all to my mom. I am now used to what I do, and I love it. I am happy to know that I can help our family, even if it’s not enough.”

In another edition, we had a story on a five-year-old girl, who sold hair clippers instead of going to school. That’s right, we are talking about a five-year-old girl. 

But she was just one of many, who can hardly be considered a teen, who are unashamedly pushed by their by parents at all hours of the day and night to beg on the streets of Apia. This is absolutely heart breaking. 

But that’s not all.

Take a drive outside those nightclubs and you will see what we are talking about. There are children, boys and girls, running around with these goods among drunks and speeding cars. It is a recipe for disaster. It is only going to be a matter of time before one of them is killed. This would be a tragedy.

But that’s where we are heading if we don’t do something to address it. 

Surely this is not the kind of future Samoa wants. Our children should treasured as the gifts that they are supposed to be. 

Let us remind ourselves here and now that it is the parents and caregivers’ responsibility to provide for our children. They should be given every opportunity to study and be nurtured, until such a time when they can go out to find formal employment.

What do you think? 

Have a wonderful Friday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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