A young child vendor is counting his lucky stars after being saved from what could have been a dreadful accident.
Talosaga Salafa, 59, from Vaitele-Fou described to the Samoa Observer the sad scene that could have eventually claimed the life of an innocent child.
She was specifically describing an incident involving a child vendor who was sleeping underneath a truck that was parked in front of a shop at Vaitele on Saturday last week.
“I was waiting for my son and his wife from Savai’i, that’s about three o’clock in the afternoon,” she said, adding that she was on her way home that day when she witnessed the incident.
“Before I parked there, a truck was also parked just beside where I was parked and I wasn’t sure how long the truck was parked there for."
“Through our car’s rear mirror, I saw two young vendors cleaning tyres of the truck."
“One of them was about 10 to 12 years old and the other one was around five to six years old.”
Talosaga said she fell asleep on the wheel of her car when her son knocked on the door to open the car because they’ve just arrived.
"That’s almost four o’clock, and when I was talking to my son and his wife, I saw a man hop inside the truck and started the engine."
“And he told us to go first, so then we reversed our car while he was waiting."
“I almost collapsed when I saw a young child lying beneath the left back tyre of the truck."
“He was sleeping."
“So we stopped and tried to call on the driver of the truck to not reverse because my son was pulling out the kid from underneath the tyre."
“I mean what if this really is happening to these kids out there, looking for money unattended by their parents."
“The parents are just using them to sell stuff and the Government just looks at this issue without doing anything.”
Talosaga says Samoa has had numerous reports on child labour in the country.
“It’s been years since we’ve tried to put this in place. It’s been years since the Government is trying to draw up a solution for child vendors in the country."
“I believe that thousands and thousands of tala were spent on child vendor reports in the country and up until now nothing has happened."
“Why don’t we use those money to look for these vulnerable families in the country and help them out."
“I’m pretty sure none of these kids that I’ve seen around Vaitele and Apia streets attend schools.”
Talosaga said it’s an ongoing issue that the Government needs to act upon it.
“Imagine Samoa in the next 10 years with the increasing number of child vendors in the country."
“What does it tell us? Yes, many of the families just can’t live with the high cost of living and the increasing numbers of unemployment in the country."
“I think that’s why many families end up selling anything they can to survive from day to day."
“These poor souls grow up in such a harsh environment and we don’t want to see them in such ways."
“As a parent, I don’t want to keep quiet on this issue on child labour, we are wasting money on reports, conference, launching and yet, nothing has been done. So what, is Samoa waiting for something big to happen involving this child vendors.”
Talosaga also questioned the role of churches in Samoa in addressing the child vendor issues.
“Stop building multi-million dollar buildings and focus on vulnerable families who have children their scouting the streets selling stuff to feed their family.”
The United States Bureau of International Labour Affairs recently named Samoa as one of the countries with some of the “worst forms of child labour”.
A copy of the report obtained by the Samoa Observer highlights the fact that children in Samoa perform “dangerous tasks” such as street vending at all hours of night and day.