Young vendor Y.A.J. provides for his family

Twelve-year-old Y.A.J. is a child vendor. He is from Leonē.

 “I’m from a family of four,” he said.  “My parents, me and my two youngest brother. My mother stays home and my father works at one of the shops in town.”

Last year he decided to quit school so that he could provide for his family, he told the Weekend Observer.

 “My father’s salary is not enough to feed our family. That was why I decided to go on the streets and sold sei, clippers and other stuff.

“I go home only after I’ve sold all of the clipper. It means I have to spend many hours selling, from seven in the morning till late at night.”

Although now and then some youths abused him and robbed him of his money, Y.A.J. said he never went to the Police.

He said: “I don’t want to report them to the Police or my father. “They told me not to tell anyone because that would invite more troubles for me.

“In my family we are struggling everyday to find food and money. We have no hope if I go back to school. So I’ll keep on working hard to sell this stuff to help  feed my family.”

Y.A.J. said: “Last Friday, I earned only $5 from selling clipper. I wanted to help.  That’s why I do this because this helps my family to survive. Because most of the time we don’t have enough money to buy food.”

He said: “Yesterday, I went to a nearby restaurant looking for food, they gave me food to eat. “But, whenever I have food, I will not eat it. I will take it home to share it with my brothers and my mother.

“That’s how our family survive most of the times. It is too hard for me to see my parents struggling. That’s what motivates me to keep going.”

Y.A.J. is one of a growing number of child vendors who provide for their families by hawking cheap goods on the streets of Apia. 

The International Labour Organisation (I.L.O.) says law reforms are a vital part of the solution to the problem of child vendors everywhere including Samoa.

However it is understood there is no legislation stopping child vendors from working at night time in Samoa, but there is one preventing it during school hours.

The National Coordinator in Samoa, Tomasi Peni, says: “The country needs to work together, especially the ministries and [social organisations] that deal with child labour.

“What they need to do is look at the gaps [in legislation] and see where they can work together to include street vendors in the legislations.”

He also said young children working into the late hours of the night on the streets of Apia, are exposed to dangerous activities such as stealing and whatnot.

He predicted that the street vendor issue would take some time to be resolved, but any intervention by the government would be a big help.

In the meantime, the community and social organisations throughout the country had an important role to play in ensuring that children were not working as street vendors, he said.

Urged Peni: “What we want to see is for those social partners working with I.L.O. to take action.

 “We urged parents to put a stop to their kids working as child vendors. I think it’s time they take the issue seriously.”

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