Child vendors dream of a joyous White Sunday

Life on the streets of Apia as a child vendor has its challenges, but like every child in Samoa this week, they too are looking forward to a White Sunday full of joy and laughter. 

John Sione, Simo Ta’ase and Elia Paelei are all teenagers, attend different schools, are from different villages and come from diverse family backgrounds. 

John has already got his mind fixed on White Sunday’s church programme as a drama actor, Simo hopes he can be dressed in white for the occasion, while Elia only wants his big brother – who is currently in prison – to be free so he can be reunited with his family for the celebration.  

Fifteen-year-old, John, is from Satapuala and is the only boy in his family and has four sisters. 

He is currently a Year 10 student at the Nu'uausala College and yesterday marked his first foray into the life of a street vendor, when he helped his aunt sell soda cans at the Fugalei market.

“Today was the first time I’ve come to the market for selling because my aunty is busy and occupied with birthday preparations at home,” he says.

“I’ve always wanted to come and help her but that’s the thing, she doesn’t want me to.”

His aunt has been street vending for the last four years, leaving home at around 8.00am and returning at 5.00pm.

Simo is 14 years old, attends the Wesley College in Leva’ula and is also selling items on the street for the first time.

But with the big day just around the corner, he only has one thing on his mind – getting suited in a white shirt and lavalava to attend church on Sunday.

“I really wish to wear a brand new white outfit when I go to attend church this Sunday at my Catholic church in Saleimoa,” he said.

“I want to feel special because I know that every other kid in church will be treated special with brand new things to wear.”

Simo said that he will only feel good and comfortable to go to church when he has something new to wear.

But for 15-year-old Elia – who hails from the village of Vaiusu and is a Year 9 student at Faleata College – he wants his 21-year-old big brother freed from prison to celebrate White Sunday with the family.

“My family has been real sad since my brother got locked up so that’s why,” he said.

He has been a vendor for two years, mainly selling traditionally-made necklaces on the streets of Apia. 

And while he also dreams of a brand new white lavalava, shirt and shoes to wear to church, he still cannot take his mind away from his imprisoned brother, and how joyous his family will be if he was freed for White Sunday. 

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