Young childvendor at Vaitele street

By Ilia L Likou ,

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SUPPORTING FAMILY: Young John from Vaitele Fou.

SUPPORTING FAMILY: Young John from Vaitele Fou.

Ten-year old, John of Vaitele Fou is one of a growing number of child vendors in Samoa.

Providing for his family by selling brooms is his daily routine.

 “My mother’s salary is not enough… I love selling these brooms and coconuts, I have been doing it since I was young.” he said.

“Yesterday, I earned $10 from selling brooms…I want to help my family… that’s why I do this,  “I’m not sure about my future…but…this helps my family to survive… because most of the time we don’t have enough food to eat,

John told Samoa Observer that he was sent by her mother to sell goods for money.

“I’ve told my mother a number of times that I wanted to go back to school like others but she told me to stay home,

 “I started (as child vendor) when I was four…five years old.

John dropped out of school when he was in Year 3. Earlier this month, the International Labour Organisation (I.L.O) said it was serious about helping Samoa address the issue.

National Coordinator in Samoa, Tomasi Peni, said law reform is a vital part of the solution.

According to Mr. Peni, there is currently no specific legislation stopping child vendors from working at night time in Samoa, with existing legislature only preventing it during school hours. Other legislature did not apply to child vendors as it does not consider the street “a formal place of work,” Mr. Peni said.

“The country needs to work together, especially the ministries and [social organisations] that deal with child labour,” he said. “What they need to do is look at the gaps [in legislation] and see where they can work together to include the street vendors in legislation.”

He said young children were working into the late hours of the night on the streets of Apia, selling various things.

That exposed them to a variety of dangerous activities as well, with some children stealing.

Mr. Peni said the street vendor issue would take some time to solve, but government intervention was important.

In the meantime, the community and social organisations throughout the country had an important role to play in ensuring children weren’t working as street vendors, he said. “What we want to see in the next course of action is for the social partners [I.L.O is working with] to take action.” Mr. Peni urged parents to put a stop to their kids working as child vendors. “I think it’s time they take the issue seriously.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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