Health and safety second to money

Desperation knows no bounds for some of the parents of child vendors. Some choose to ignore the health and safety of their own children in a drive to get money.

Last week, the Samoa Observer approached two child vendors at one of the supermarkets at Vaitele.

They are; Maeli a 10 year old boy, from Toāmua and John aged 12 of Vaiusu.

“I’m with my mother, she’s waiting for me at the other side of the market,” said John.

“This is what I have done ever since I was young. Last year, I came with my mom one day and she left me in front (old) Frankies Supermarket so that I could sell many air fresheners even though I told her that day I wasn’t feeling well.

“The money from selling provides living for my family and that’s why I’m always on the street every day from morning to night.

“Yesterday, I went with her (mother) to buy this stuff from one of the Chinese shops in town and I’m still trying to sell it all now.

“I know this is very hard. Last week I felt sick then I slept in front of the shop at the other side (pointing at the new building opposite Frankie’s supermarket).

“A security guard gave me juice to drink and then I left to go home late that night The guard told me to go home because I was shivering.

“I’m feeling better now, my mother told me yesterday that I have to work hard for our family, and I’m enjoying it.

“People around this area are very helpful My mother is desperately looking for money, to buy food and everything.

“That’s why she pushes me to come here every day to sell air fresheners and other goods. I’m not sure if I’m able to go back to school this year.

“But I love what I’m doing.

Ten year old Maeli from Toāmua knows what he wants to do.

 “I can’t wait to go back to school.”

“I’m from Toāmua and why I’m doing this is to help my family.

“This money really helps us in so many ways, I have three more chips to sell then I’m heading home.

“Yesterday, I gave my mother all the money, about $12.50.

“She bought us rice and sugar from the money, we hardly have any (money).

“This area is very safe for me, my mother told me this morning to be at home before night time.

“Sometimes I try to help people by carrying their shopping and I still help people even if they hate me.”

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