Buddy Up’ takes to the beach

Samoa’s child vendors and their Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G.) buddies took to the beach yesterday to make a dent in the rubbish pile at Apia beach.

S.V.S.G’s Buddy Up program has been touring workplaces for two weeks as part of a youth empowerment program, including a visit to the Fire and Emergency Services Authority, the Samoa Observer and Samoa Police headquarters.

Ahead of a sports day activity, the group spent time at Apia Beach, “giving back” to the community that has welcomed them into their workplaces for the last ten days.

Sala Manase is a 26 year old volunteer with S.V.S.G. Juniors and said cleaning up the beach is also about showing the child what it means to be Samoan.

“The cleaning this morning is about keeping Samoa clean. Our people are always making a mess but we are doing a good job telling our people to know to clean up, every time. If you keep cleaning, you show who you are,” Ms Manase said.

Across the road at Aqua Samoa, Karin Cardy saw the bright yellow tee-shirts and came to have a look. She said she was so happy to see someone making an effort to clean up the beach.

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“The beach out here is always full of rubbish collecting from the rivers and washing up on shore,” she said. “Our diving customers do comment on it, and we’ve actually started apologising for how gross it is.”

Ms Cardy said she was excited to see children out there cleaning up because they would also learn the importance of getting rubbish into bins, and then to landfill.

“We have to start with the kids, that we don’t throw rubbish onto the road, or out the bus window, because it ends up in the sea,” she said.

On the waterfront, a lack of rubbish bins does not make it easy to keep the area clean and tidy, Ms Cardy added.

 The Buddy Up program intends to get child vendors motivated to prioritise education, and get some help to break the cycle of poverty they are in. Ms Manase said the workshops have been about helping the children change their lives.

“We are trying to do some lessons for the young generation, to know how to better their lives,” she said. “Some of them, they don’t go to school but we are trying to put them together to build up a new life for them.”

The program is funded by the International Labour Organisation and has 30 child vendors from Vaiusu, Tafaigata, Falelauniu and Nuu-fou buddied up with S.V.S.G. (Junior) youths from the Luatuanuu C.C.C.S. Youth, the Fasitoo-uta Youth, the Shrine of the Three Hearts Youth the S.V.S.G. Youth Empowerment Programme, and the Sisters of Hope.

According to S.V.S.G, 95% of the child vendors have never been to school before. 

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