Earning from rubbish so our children won’t have to

For Lasei Maeli, and her family from the village of Nu’u, life is no walk in the park.

Aged 34, Lasei and her husband work very hard earning money from gathering rubbish to be recycled. But they say their struggle is all worth it when it comes to their children. 

“Life is alright, if we get a bunch of bananas then we deliver it to the market to make a bit of money,” she told the Village Voice.

“We also try our best to help my husband with taking care of everything. To be honest with you, my husband doesn’t have a job.

“The money we put our children through school comes from rubbish. We gather tin cans, wire and other forms of rubbish to sell to the Tafa’igata recycle area.

“If I total our earnings, we make about $100 a week from that.”

With her children her utmost priority, Lasei tries to show them the meaning of struggle so that they would work hard for a better future for themselves.

“Making a living this way is not easy at all, but we do what we have to so that our children can have a better future,” she said.

“Our priority is always our children so whatever way we can find to put them through school, then we will do it.

“We try and teach them through our struggle, we try and show them how hard it is to live from rubbish so that they will work hard for a better future from themselves.

“We try and push them to go as far as possible with their education so they won’t end up doing the same as their parents.”

But as she gets up every day to get the children ready for school, her heart breaks seeing her husband get ready to spend the whole day in the sun gathering recyclable rubbish.

“I have so much love for my husband because the work he does is not easy,” Lasei said.

“I feel sorry every time he leaves to spend the day in the hot sun to put his children through school. He doesn’t mind the hard work because he knows he’s working his hardest for his children.”

And when a family struggles this much, Lasei said that learning good management skills goes a long way.

“Life is getting a bit expensive but wise management helps us a lot,” she said.

“As soon as we get money then we put aside a lot of it for the children school week then depending on what’s left, we get what we can afford for meals whether it be a pack of chicken or tin fish.

“We try and have good food for the family but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the children’s education needs.”

Aside from struggling to earn money for the children, Lasei’s family also has problems with water and electricity.

“We have a lot of problems with electricity because we share the same meter with everyone else leasing these lands,” she said.

“A lot of family’s here use a lot of power but they don’t have children who are schooling. We have five children so we do need the electricity for their needs.

“The same goes with the water.”

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