Working hard to compensate for the minimum wage

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou ,

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DOING OUR BEST TO TAKE CARE OF MY FAMILY: Telesia Leota, 34, from the village of Tuaefu standing with her children.

DOING OUR BEST TO TAKE CARE OF MY FAMILY: Telesia Leota, 34, from the village of Tuaefu standing with her children.

With the low minimum wage, many families have to resort to making ends meet by any means necessary.

Telesia Leota, from the village of Tuaefu, no matter how hard her husband works, the pay he gets is still not enough to meet the needs of the family.

Aged 34, Telesia makes assorted handicrafts to sell by the roadside to compensate for the low pay given to her husband.

“We do make these things so that we can take care of the family,” she told the Village Voice.

“We make a decent amount of money selling these things every week. Most of our money is spent on taking care of the children and sending them to school.

“I pay a lot to transport the children to school and back every day.”

According to Telesia, her family’s weekly budget is only $100 and they do their best to make it last.

“We are only able to use $100 a week and we try our best to make that money stretch because a lot of money is used for family needs,” she said.

“My husband works but his pay isn’t enough so that’s why we make these handicrafts to sell. With five children currently schooling, we need all the money we can get to take care of them.

“Whatever we make, it finishes in a day.”

But like many families in Samoa, Telesia’s main struggle is finding money for food every day.

Handmade products sold by Telesia at the road side.
Handmade products sold by Telesia at the road side.

“We don’t go through many problems,” she said.

“I guess the only thing we struggle with is money to buy food each day because a lot of money goes to satisfying the stomach with us Samoans.

“If we don’t have money then we don’t eat on that day. We only have a small piece of land so we can’t have a big plantation to help out with food.”

The hardworking mother is happy that they have a side business which helps a lot with taking care of the family.

“What you see at the roadside is what really helps us with earning money,” she said.

“We sell floor mats, blankets and other small handicrafts. The floor mats are what sell really fast, most of it is bought from families whose children go to Robert Louis School.

“Pastor’s wives also come and buy from me. We have been doing this for about three years now.”

And after three years of running the business, Telesia is beginning to see the fruits of her labour.

“This business is starting to get really good,” she said.

“We are starting to get orders from people who wish to buy floor mats and other things from us. We are glad because it compensates for the small amount made from my hardworking husband.

“We are also looking after my elderly parents so we work hard to provide for them as well as the children.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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