Now that the Office of the Electoral Commissioner has announced the final result of the General Election we’ve just had, perhaps now is a good time to remind the members of the new Parliament Sitting about an issue we should all be alarmed about.
Whether we agree or disagree about the existence of poverty in Samoa, the truth is staring at us point blank in the face. And that is young people hawking goods on the streets of Apia and all over Samoa at all sorts of hours during day and night deserve better. They deserve an education and to live a normal life of being cared for and looked after.
What’s happening is that these poor babies have been robbed of their childhood simply to make ends meet for their families who live in hardship, poverty and want. This surely not the Samoa these new aspiring Members of Parliament want.
We say because deep down inside, we are a community that cares. We are a family-oriented people who carry a strong sense of communal responsibility encouraged by our culture and Christianity values.
Which is why we simply cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the number of young boys and girls who are being turned into street kids and are growing up to become hardened criminals who can only become a menace in the future.
Indeed, using young children, who should be in school, to attract the sympathy of passers by, who are then forced to buy something from them or give them money, should be discouraged by everyone.
The reality is that everyday in this country, we are seeing so many young children taking to the streets to beg – and sell - for whatever they could get their hands on, to help their families survive.
For years now, this newspaper has been highlighting some pretty heart-breaking stories about these young people.
Not so long ago, we highlighted the story of 10-year-old Suliveta Suliveta. The child sells flowers on the street, often around the Marina or at McDonald’s every day.
“My mum asks me to come and sell this stuff so that we can get money,” he said. “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.”
Among some of the extreme cases we’ve featured involved a five-year-old girl who sells hair clippers instead of going to school.
That’s right, we are talking about a five-year-old girl.
But she is just one of many who have barely made it out of the baby stages who are unashamedly pushed by their by parents at all hours of the day and night to beg on the streets of Samoa.
This is absolutely heart breaking.
We’ve said this countless times but this is the truth.
Take a drive down to McDonald’s at night or outside those nightclubs and you will see the horror that these children are being exposed to. They are at the mercy of drunks, people who are stoned off their faces, paedophiles, rapists, dangerous drivers and all sorts of criminals.
This is not normal. And it is not okay.
Let us remind here and now that it is the parents and caregivers’ responsibility to provide for these children. They should be given the opportunity to study and be nurtured until such a time when they can go out to find formal employment.
What’s happening today is nothing short of gruesome and abuse. This is wrong and it is not normal. This is surely not the kind of future Samoa wants.
We take this opportunity to divert the attention of a Members of Parliament who are celebrating their victories to this very serious issue. Please do something about it. Don’t ignore it like the last Parliamentary sitting. Please.
Have a restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!