Father sustains family through earning from Tafa’igata landfill

Sala Tielu’s routine every day before sunset is to push his wheelbarrow at the Tafa’igata rubbish dump.

His goal? To collect as many empty bottles as he can.

The father-of-seven from Nu’u does this to earn a living for his family. 

The Village Voice team caught up with him while on his way back from the rubbish site at midday yesterday.

“It’s not the best job in the world but it’s what I can do and it’s near my home,” he said.

“I have seven children and two of them work. The other five are still in school.

“To be honest, my children’s income can’t  buy us everything especially when I want to make sure that my other five children stay in school.

“That’s why I came up with this solution (collecting bottles) to contribute to my family’s well-being.

He said there are challenges every day.

“I have to face the bad smell, rain and the sun every day,” Sala said.

“I have to wake up early every morning to make sure that I’m the first one to wait for those rubbish collectors at the site so that I could collect as many bottles as I can.

“To be honest, I’m not the only parent at the site and it’s a really sad scene if you have a chance to stop by someday see how it is.

“I want to thank the ministry for allowing us to go inside the site even though many of us make it too hard for the ministry sometimes.

“But they understand that we are desperately in need of help to raise our children and family.

“But where else can we go when this is the only answer and the best solution to the many struggles that we’ve faced every day.

Sala’s love for his family motivates him to continue what he’s doing now.

“This is the only hope for me and my family to survive from day to day,” he said.

“My family needs me every day, and that’s why I don’t have to sit around and do nothing, even though what I’m doing is too risky for myself.

“Nothing can stop me because my family is everything to me and I have to love them unconditionally no matter what.”

Sala earns $20 daily from collecting bottles.

“The money provides for my family’s basic needs like sugar, salt and others but I also have to save the other $10 for my children’s lunch every day,” he added.

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