At the age of 14, Zozo Palolosekope of Maota is keen on helping her family with their everyday survival.
In an interview with the Samoa Observer, she said she usually sells bongo and cans of soda at the Salelologa Wharf with other children, some who are younger than her, to support her family, especially her mother.
She has seven siblings and she’s the sixth child.
“I attend school at Salelologa but this is our way of earning money and also for me and my siblings to go to school. I do this before and after school. I would come as early as 3 o’clock in the morning to sell my Koko Samoa and bongos,” Zozo said.
“When I know I have enough on that day for our lunches at school then I go home and get ready for school and after school I will bring bongos and cans of soda.”
She said none of her family members is employed and the $200 she makes every day she gives to her parents to financially support them.
Zozo explained her father, who used to be a fireman in Apia, now works their plantation while her mother goes fishing.
“I’m not ashamed to do this because I started selling this when I was just six years old,” said Zozo.
“If I’m lucky enough to get a ride I would catch a ride with someone in the morning, but if not I would ride my bike with my older brother who attends Don Bosco School from Maota to Salelologa.
“Then when the 6 o’clock ferry leaves, I go home, get ready for school and after school I go home, change and come again here to sell bongos and cans of soda to get money for the next day of school.
“I go home after the six o’clock ferry arrives and by that time my mother had already come back from fishing then we go home together.”
Zozo understands that it is not right for someone her age to sell on the streets, but she said her love for her parents drives her to sell.
“I want to work as an engineer at the Samoa Water Authority,” she said.
“I want to get a lot of money so that I can build a house for my family, especially my parents and it’s good to work there so my family can get access to water as well without any problem.
“I always hear my parents say no pain no gain and that is what I am experiencing at the moment without pain there is no good ending.”
Asked for the meaning of her name, Zozo said she was named by their pastor and his wife.
“They told me the meaning of my name is ‘happy’ and I think that’s why I’m always happy even when I don’t like what I’m doing, but as long as I am able to help my parents especially my mother I am happy,” she said.
“I have never been to Upolu and I hope and pray one day I will get a job at the Samoa Water Authority so that I can be able to travel to Upolu and come visit my family in Savaii.”