Child vendor gets school fee support

Ten-year-old child vendor Faustina Aperaamo of Falelauniu has been thrown a lifeline – $1,000 to pay for her school fee for the whole year.

The funding support comes courtesy of New Zealand-based couple, Eli and Wyndi Tagi.

The couple decided to fund the school fees, after they read a story of a 13-year-old child vendor in the Samoa Observer, which revealed the financial difficulties that her family faced that led to her abandoning school. According to the Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), the couple were touched by the story and decided to support one.

Faustina recently joined the recently concluded SVSG Buddying Up Programme – which was funded by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) – and is aimed at boosting the self-esteem of child vendors and promoting the importance of education. 

Speaking in an interview with the Samoa Observer, Faustina thanked Eli and Wyndi Tagi for their generosity and praised the SVSG Buddying Up Programme for highlighting the importance of education.

“I am very happy for the opportunity that I have been given to attend school again, thanks to the couple from New Zealand who is paying for my fees.

“I like the programme because I was able to listen to so much helpful advice by various people, and I was challenged by one of the speakers who said education is very important for me and it is my only way to secure a successful future.

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“I also learned from one of the police officers that said according to the law we children belong in school during school hours,” she added.

Faustina said due to her parent’s background and the challenges they faced, she didn’t mind being a street vendor as her parents weren’t rich. 

“And sending me to school was hard for my parents due to financial difficulties, but the buddy up programme taught me that there is a bigger world out there and I can become just like everyone else working in an office. My dream is to be an office worker in the future and in order to achieve that I have to stay in school,” she added.

The 35-year-old mother of Faustina, Telesia Manusina, thanked God for his blessings through the New Zealand couple as it will now enable her daughter to return to school. 

“I thank God for his blessings through the New Zealand couple’s help, my daughter has the chance to attend school again and all expenses paid for.

“She used to attend Vaigaga Primary School but she did not attend school last year. At the moment there is no one employed in our family, but we try to live off selling various Samoan foods,” Telesia said.

Faustina has been helping her parents sell products, as she knows how tough life is for them.

“I love my child and I only want the best for her, and her education will benefit her future and that of her families,” her mother added. 

It is understood the SVSG will monitor the disbursement of the funds provided by the New Zealand couple, to ensure they are channeled to tuition fees and aren’t misused.

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