Money can be carved from trees.
Just ask Saulo Pito, a 61-year-old father from the village of Uafato Fagaloa, and he will be happy to tell you all about it.
He was spotted by the Village Voice smoothing his handmade Ava bowls with sandpaper at their house.
Despite not having the right equipment and tools to do his work, Saulo said that anything is possible if you put your whole heart in to it.
“Where there’s a will, there will always be way to do it,” he said. “Carving and selling Ava bowls is something that we do as a family and we depend so much on this to provide for us.”
“Even though we don’t have the right tools to do it, we still use knives as tools to draw the patterns on the bowls before we sell and take it to the market.”
The village of Uafato is known for carving and making Ava bowls, said Saulo.
“This talent was passed down to us and we continue to do it. We all work as a family to do it.”
“And like anything in life, it’s not easy doing this kind of business. Sometimes it’s really hard to find the right tree which is the ifilele (ipil tree).”
“We have to go all the way up to the mountains and in the forest to get this tree.”
“And because no one in our family has a job, we all work together on doing this because we depend on it so much.”
Said Saulo, he is married to a girl from Uafato and he learned the skills from the people of the village and he was struggling in the beginning because he doesn’t have the right tools to do it.
“As I mentioned before, no one works in my family. So we all learned the skills to make Ava bowls so we can all help one another and work together as a family.”
However, he believes that with the right tools and equipments, it will make it easier for him and his family to carve and draw patterns on the bowls and sell it for money.
“That’s the main problem we have. It’s difficult doing the work without the right tools. And I hope that when we start to earn more money from this, we will be able to afford buying some tools so it will be easier for us.”
“But then you know when we earn money, it goes straight to the many obligations we have and also for our needs.”
“But I hope to get the right equipments soon so we can continue doing this work.”
However, despite that, Saulo said the problem will not stop them from pursing this talent for it is their only source of income.
“In life, you face a lot of challenges and we come across a lot of difficulties. But you will always find a way if you do it wholeheartedly.”
“In my case, we use knives for now to draw patterns and although it’s difficult to do it without the right tools, we still try our best to do because there’s nothing else we can do.”
“But we also use those challenges as motivation to encourage us to keep working hard. We will eventually get what we want if we work hard and keep striving for the best.”