Children's right to education drives Miss Samoa contestant
Raising awareness about the trade off many child vendors are forced to make between eking out a living and an education drove Miss Lavashe Couture, Grace Tevaga-Foai, to enter this year's Miss Samoa pageant.
Ms. Tevaga-Foai was was born in New Zealand to Samoan parents, Ruta and Mark Tevaga.
She hails from the villages of Vaipu’a, Leulumoega, and Puipa'a.
“Samoa is a beautiful paradise located in the South Pacific but a concern or cause I wish to raise is the issue of child vending in our country,” she said.
The 25-year-old said that it is evident in the streets of Apia that so many children and youths are selling various products to earn a living for their families.
“You can find the kids out on the streets as young as five or six selling goods yet they should be in school learning how to read and write.
“But that is not the worst part; some children are still seen late at night selling products around areas where night clubs are located but that is dangerous.
“I consider myself blessed to have grown and had the chance to have a proper education which is exactly what I want others to have.”
She said that children should be protected from falling victims to abuse due to them selling products.
“I believe that effective solutions must be made to address this and I would like to contribute to making those changes in any way I can whether it be rallying support for the child vendors or [increasing] awareness."
Ms. Tevaga-Foai is an artist. She has completed a Certificate in Business and Administration from T.A.F.E.
“I come from a caring family and I love performing arts especially cultural dancing, my other hobbies include playing sports and cooking," she said.
“But I believe that Samoan traditional dancing is unique in the Samoan culture because it is different from other countries because it can depict the gracefulness of the Samoan lady.
“So far, it has been very busy with preparations but all is well, I am motivated every time I think about my grandmother, Moe Ula Uputausaga. But with whatever the results will be, win or lose the girls are all winners.”
She is among nine contestants vying for this year's Miss Samoa crown.