Life is not a walk in the park. We know that.
We all have to work, sweat, and persevere in order to keep up.
However, some struggles are harder than others. We all face different challenges and fight different battles.
For Salome Paulo from the village of Leoneē, the main challenge they continue to face is not having enough money to provide for her big family.
She told the Village Voice that raising eight children depending on one employed person in the family is tough.
“Life has been really tough for us,” said Salome. “You see, we are not a well-off family. We don’t have much and the only person that works in the family is my husband.”
“But the money he gets is never enough to provide for all the things we need for our family.”
Salome’s husband is a taxi driver.
“You know this kind of job is not easy as well and you don’t get much money as well. My husband is working for another family too. So he has to collect $350 a week for the family who owns the car. So the whole week he drives and tries to get $350 to give to the family.”
“He won’t get any profit if he still has to collect $350. And that’s bad for us because we are depending on him to provide money for us.”
So Salome thought of coming up with other ideas to earn money for her family.
“I thought to myself that we can’t keep living that way. I had to find a way to earn money. So I started making seis (flowers) and sold it on the streets. I sell them at $5 each for the big ones and $3 for the medium size.”
“And I’ve been doing that now for quite some times now.”
Salome said even though she doesn’t make enough money from selling her seis, she was always happy that they had some extra cash for other things needed in their family.
“I know it wasn’t much, but the money has helped me with a lot of things in my family. Especially for my children.”
“Any mother would sacrifice and do anything for their children. They are the reason why I go to town in the sun and walk around to sell flowers to earn money.”
Moreover, Salome said one of their sons had joined her in selling her sei’s.
“Sometimes my husband doesn’t collect enough money to pay back the family who owns the car he uses. Therefore, I help him out to find money so he can pay the $350 to the owner of the taxi.”
“And when we are desperate, I make a lot of sei, and one of my children, he is my eldest son would always offer his help to sell the flowers in town.”
“I never allow him to sell the flowers during school hours. He would always join me after school and help me out.”
“He saw that this was one of the things his cousins were doing, and how tired I get sometimes so he offered to help.”
Salome went on to say that even though her son is always seen on the street, she always make sure that he goes to school every day.
“I always push my children to go to school. I always tell them to focus and do well in school so that they won’t have to live the way we live now when they grow up.”
“I know education is very useful and that’s why I push them to keep going to school. I never let my daughters to go on the streets to sell things.”
“For me, that is very dangerous.”
Said Salome, they start selling her sei’s from 10 in the morning until 6 in the evening.
Her son would join her around 2 or 3pm.
“But he has been helping me out a lot during the holidays.”
However, Salome said that will have to stop for now, thanks to the govt. through the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development for the initiative to reach out and help these families.
Salome was among the participants for a one-week training hosted by the Ministry under their Youth Employment Programme funded by U.N.D.P.
Each family will be given $3,500 to start their own small businesses to help them out financially.
“I am grateful to the people who organized this programme,” said Salome.
“When they first approached me in November, I was hesitant to come. This is because I didn’t really know the background and the purpose of the programme.”
“I also didn’t want to immediately say yes, because I didn’t want to end up having to pay back all the money.”
“But after they explained to me what it was, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to learn something new and learn about other options we can turn to, to earn money.”
“So we had to make proposals of the different kinds of businesses we want to start. And for me, I will continue to make sei. With the help from this programme, the money will help me get all the right tools and also expand this business.”
“I will also start printing materials and sell it for money. That was one of the skills I learnt from this training and I will make good use of it.”