A tala goes a long way.
For Siatunu’u Malesala, from the village of Toāmua, while the cost of living is hard, selling food for as little as a tala is her way of helping her family.
Aged 67, Siatunu’u runs a business where she sells snacks from a shed. With many of her customers being children from the nearby schools, the hard working mother says it’s hard to make ends meet with the small money she makes.
“I haven’t been doing this for a long time but at least it is good honest money,” she told the Village Voice. “I make most of my money from green coconut sales I take to Vaitele. To tell you the truth, the reason I work so hard with this business is because life is very hard.”
“Everything has become more and more expensive. I always think back to the days when things were a little bit less expensive.”
“Back then we would be able to get bread for 10cents and we could also get some tin fish for only 50cents. That shows how expensive things are these days.”
The money she makes goes towards taking care of her family.
“This small business helps families like mine afford daily items such as soap, sugar and so on,” Siatunu’u said.
“It’s a good way to take care of the family. It’s also good for mothers like me who are unemployed. My biggest motivation to run something like this is the young children.
“As their mother, I do as much as I can to provide for them.
“When I total up the money I have earned then I put aside money to restock, for basic needs like soap and then I put the rest into saving.”
Siatunu’u doesn’t believe in banking her money but she does have a saving.
“I don’t have a bank account but I do have savings hidden in a box somewhere,” she said.
“I prefer saving my money in a box than in a bank account because it’s much simpler to just get the money and stuff it in the box.”
With a profit of $30 a day, her weekly obligations drain much of Siatunu’u’s earnings.
“That $30 is after restocking costs.
“After a week I make about $150 and with that money I take care of the family, the young ones and the different obligations.
“I don’t mind having obligations because that’s where the blessings come from. When you give then you will be blessed.”
But whenever she doesn’t have enough to make ends meet, she always has her family to lie back on.
“The way I see it, for any family to prosper, everyone should work as one,” she said.
“Most of my children now have their own families and they are working with their spouses to take care of themselves. They work so that they can put their children through school and for their own daily necessities.”
“No matter how hard life is, when I’m in need of something then I’ll just ask. That’s how families in Samoa are supposed to be.”
“If I don’t make much then I need help from my children and sometimes they need my help.”