I speak from experience: poverty, hardship are real

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L Likou ,

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SELLING SNACKS AT $1 EACH TO TAKE CARE OF MY FAMILY: Va’a Malele, 46, from the village of Moata’a

SELLING SNACKS AT $1 EACH TO TAKE CARE OF MY FAMILY: Va’a Malele, 46, from the village of Moata’a

It happens quite frequently. When we are approached by someone selling something on the streets, we reject them without a second thought.

But have you ever stopped to think why they are out there selling those goods in the first place? 

Have you ever spared a thought that their family might be struggling and this is the only way they can earn a bit of money?

No one would expose themselves to ridicule without a good reason.

Va’a Malele, from the village of Moata’a makes his way from his village every day to sell snacks.

It’s not an easy job but it puts food on the table.

The 46-year-old said it’s a tough life, made even harder by mean spirited people. 

“I come from the village to town to sell these things to look after the family, the young ones who are at school and some things for church,” he told the Village Voice.

“It’s not easy but this is the only way I know how to take care of my family. I sell these snacks for only $1 a packet and I would earn $80 a day.

“I also sell fruit salad on the street to make a bit of money.”

Va’a lives with his parents after separating from his wife and now all his earnings go towards taking care of his elderly mother and father.

“I was married before but my wife and I separated,” he said.

“I was taking care of the children but I had to send them back to their mother to be taken care of. I am living on my own right now with my parents. I take care of them with the money I earn.

“I am going to be honest with you, my family is poor. I wouldn’t be out here doing this sort of work to take care of my family if we weren’t in this poor state.

“Life isn’t easy at all.”

Va’a says that working hard throughout the day in the hot sun isn’t easy but the thought of taking care of his family gets him out of bed every morning.

“I would come early in the morning and immediately start selling to people I see around,” he said.

“I would only make my way home at five because that’s when all of my potential customers leave town. There are so many things I have to deal with when selling these. But what else can I do to help my family?”

Va’a says that there is poverty in Samoa and he is an example of it.

“There is a lot of poverty in Samoa and I for one know this to be true,” he said.

“My family struggles but I know that I need to continue to work hard to provide for them every day. If I were to just sit around at home then I wouldn’t earn anything and we would suffer more.

“People judge me but I am trying my best to take care of my parents and make ends meet. This money goes towards putting the children through school as well.

“My family is my only motivation.”

His only message to his children who are living with their mother is to make the most of every opportunity.

“My message to my children who are living with their mother is to try their best in school,” he said. “Your parents are working hard to pay for the expenses so make the most of the opportunity. Even though we are struggling, we make it by every day and I am thankful for that.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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