Put the people first

Doesn’t the phrase ‘I am my own boss’ sound attractive to you?

It certainly does for Avea Key, 45. He is a father of three from Falelauniu. 

Avea offers his services as welder and plumber to businesses around town. 

He graduated with a diploma in welding and plumbing from the A.P.T.C. a few years ago and ever since he’s been self-employed. 

However, being his own boss does not fully sustain his family’s financial needs especially when all his children attend school. 

Yesterday, the Village Voice team spoke to Avea while he was on his way home from distributing his application letters to some government ministries and businesses in town.

Avea believes people living below the poverty line not only suffer economic challenges, but social challenges as well. 

And this, he adds, can be attributed to the increase in unemployment especially among youths in Samoa and the increasing costs of goods and services. 

“I finished school at A.P.T.C. in 2015 and because I have nowhere to go and find a job, I end up doing my own work at home,” he told the Village Voice.

“From that time (graduated from A.P.T.C.) until today, I’m still looking for a steady job to help me and my family.”

“I mean I earn from what I’m doing now but not every day, sometimes I have to offer my work to businesses.”

“But I think looking for a job is the answer for me especially to cope with the high cost of living that we are facing now,” he said.  

Avea believes the increase in costs of goods and services hinders any real opportunity for families and individuals living under the minimum wage to get by.

“Samoa is increasing fees of services and goods, I mean the government is desperate but what’s really sad is that those signs of poverty fall back on us and it’s a huge burden now to many of our people.”

“Poverty does not mean no food, it’s also means lack of opportunities to provide for our family financially.”

Avea adds the increasing number of unemployed youths in Samoa is another worrying issue.

“This is not a new issue to many of us, but I’m so thankful that I have this opportunity to raise my concerns even though the government don’t seem to care,” he said.

“We look like zombies to them.”

“But when we look at graduate students from overseas countries and not counting those graduated from the National University of Samoa every year, many of them are still at home, they’re still looking for jobs to provide for their families.”

“So what is the use of all the degrees and diplomas when you end up on the road looking for jobs?”

“People are everywhere looking for jobs, and the government ministers just sit there not worrying about what people go through.”

“And when you look at what they’re doing now (government), all they’re working on is constructing multimillion dollar buildings.”

“What’s the use of seminars and press conferences, launching and opening of this and that when almost the whole country is struggling to get by every day?”

“The fact is most of our people don’t understand the reality that we’re living now, but we also have to use our common sense to figure out what is waiting for us and our children in the future.”

Avea said the overseas market for taro was also a concern.

“As a father this is really depressing news. We all know that many families are relying on plantation for food, yet taro is rotten everywhere because we don’t have enough overseas markets.”

Despite these concerns, he still believes the government can develop strategies to solve the problems the county faces. 

“They should create employment opportunities for our people instead of wasting too much time on infrastructural developments.”

“Nowadays, we all need money to survive, that means we need jobs to survive – money talks.”

Avea said the government should focus on Samoa’s important asset – the people.

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