Working hard to make ends meet

Living life and performing her daily tasks is the life of Talaleu Leava, from the village of Levi, Sale’imoa.

With her children working and earning money for the family, Talaleu says that their pay isn’t that big so she does what she can to earn a little extra money for the family.

Aged 60, Talaleu spends a lot of her time in her plantation growing crops and making Koko Samoa to sell. She says that even at her age, she works hard to help her family out.

“For me, my duty in my family is the usual Samoan motherly duties,” Talaleu told the Village Voice.

“I take care of the food, I pick up the rubbish and leaves around the house, I take care of our plants and crops, I clean the house and so on.

“I do all of that but most of my time goes into making Koko Samoa and then selling it to earn a bit of money for the family’s basic needs.”

“I sell small cups of Koko for $5 and the big cups for $10. I am very serious when it comes to my small business because as you may already know, life is getting more and more expensive.”

Asked about life in the village, she said that all everyone does is look for cheaper shops to buy their everyday necessities.

She said life is getting a bit expensive so every cent counts.

“I am always busy trying to find the cheapest shops so we can afford our daily sugar and tea,” Talaleu said.

“Some of my children are currently employed so they come and bring some food for the family from town. And if we don’t have money because the Koko isn’t ready for harvest, then they do the shopping with their money from work.”

With many others in her village looking at ways to make ends meet, Talaleu says that a lot of them try to hustle her into selling her Koko at lower prices and then they profit from it later.

“Many people in this area are always coming to me to purchase Koko for a low price,” she said.

“They want a cup of Koko for only $1.50 or a sack for $200 - $300. That’s very cheap and they go off and sell it for profit.”

“It’s sad when they always try and do this because they make a good profit and I suffer. I guess that’s how it is when everyone is trying to make a living.”

Talaleu explains that one of the ways they struggle in the village is because there are way too many things that eat up all their money.

“Life isn’t easy anymore no matter how hard you work,” she said.

“Any money we receive goes very fast. Not a lot of money goes towards taking care of the family and the rest is used to clear church and village obligations.”

“And we also have our occasional family gatherings (faalavelave). Aside from all those expenses, my priority will always be the schooling of my grandchildren.”

“I clear any of the school expenses before I manage the rest of the money for everything else. My second priority is my church obligations so my family can be blessed and then I take care of the village obligations.”

According to Talaleu, there is no rest when they are trying to making ends meet.

“Yes we may not have much but we try every day,” she said.

“When my grandchild doesn’t have bus fare then I go and sell Koko to get the money. That’s how life is for us, we work when we need something.”

“One reason I work hard on my plantation is because when my children get their pay, it’s very small. So I help out by growing my Koko, cabbages, peas and other crops so we can have extra money.”

“I start my daily duties and work at five in the morning and finish late at night.”

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