With a bit of business innovation with product selection, it’s surprising what one can earn and buy.
For Pi’ilua Muliaga, from the village of Salelavalu, Savaii, she was able to purchase a house and take care of her family with her earnings from selling sea cucumber innards.
Aged 74, Pi’ilua says this has been her lifestyle for as long as she can remember.
“This is what me and my children live on,” she told the Village Voice.
“This is what I used to take care of them all and it was our lifestyle. We lived on sea cucumbers and everything has been great for our family.
“We are strong and blessed. I just came to the market just now because I had to go home and grab some more things to sell.”
Pi’ilua has done much from her sea cucumber business.
“I have been able to do a lot of things from selling sea cucumber innards,” she said.
“I have been able to really help out with my church contributions. Aside from my family, the church is my other priority.
“I have also been able to build a house from the money I make through sales. I managed to build it a long time ago and we are still living in that house till this day.”
But it’s not an easy way to live says Pi’ilua.
“There are so many problems with this type of lifestyle,” she said.
“I would go very far out to collect the sea urchins then I would walk all the way back then to my house to put them in buckets.
“I would then clean them. The waves cause a lot of trouble when it’s collection time because I have to reach down and it knocks me around.”
Selling each bottle of sea cucumber innards at $30 each, Pi’ilua says that it’s very profitable.
“I sell each bottle of innards for $30 and it sells really well here in the market,” she said.
“I stay here a lot and sell my bottles to make enough for the family. My life is based wholly on faith in the Lord. That’s why my life is alright right now.”
Pi’ilua agrees that there are some forms of poverty in Samoa.
“People are poor in some ways,” she said.
“Even with me, no matter how hard I work, there are times when it’s very hard to find sea cucumbers to sell. Times are different for everyone. Some days you will earn enough to live on and others you will go without money. Another problem is that it’s very expensive nowadays.
“In the past everything was cheap. You would be able to get things for cents but now, everything costs and arm and a leg.”