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Street vendor mother stays positive

A woman street vendor and mother of 14 children has described Samoa as a “land of opportunity” and believes no one should go hungry or be stricken by poverty.

Salome Paulo, knows the difficulties that street vendors currently face when plying their trade and how being out on the street selling goods kept her out of school in her early years.

But the 39-year-old believes that the land can supply the basic needs of a family and it is possible to strike a balance in life as a street vendor, to ensure they still get to sell their goods while ensuring their children attend school.

“The first thing I want to do is to thank the heavenly father above for blessing us in all the wonderful unexpected ways amidst this global pandemic,” she said in an interview.

“There might be some street vendors who might have a downturn from the drop of sales in businesses as we all are aware. But for us we’re very grateful for I don’t suffer anymore to feed my children and bring them all to school.”

Mrs. Paulo believes that the current COVID-19 global pandemic is a test of one’s faith in God and adds that she has never had any doubts. 

“I take this crisis as a test to examine how we perceive life and how strong our faith is in God with the provision of our needs and wants.

“I had my faith in God hundred percent and I never once doubt that I will always have something to feed my children even if there is no single penny in my pocket.”

Earlier this month, Pastor Aumua Eric Poe of the Christian City Church Apia Central, who used to be the Teen Challenge Samoa Director, expressed concern at the rise in the number of street vendors in Apia.

He says it’s a major concern that could get out of control if it is not addressed.

"There has been a rise in the number of children selling goods on the streets," Aumua said. 

"To me, the problem isn't really because of the fact that they sell goods on the streets. However, those children who are being troublemakers in town and are being disrespectful towards members of the public, those are the ones we are most worried about.”

But Mrs. Paulo is of the view that the issue of street vending has the same root as any other problem experienced by other families who are not street vendors.

“There’s so much we can get from our environment to make ends meet and feed our children and I am talking from my own experience as a street vendor myself, although I made things a bit professional,” she added. 

She then recalled a childhood filled with challenges and struggles to make ends meet, which ultimately kept her out of primary school. 

However, having gone through various challenges in life, she gradually became a businesswoman who now sells flowers for a living.

“I have learned from the wrong decisions I made as a child vending in the streets that life is hard without education, so thank God I was able to pick up pieces of my puzzle and provide for my children’s education,” she further reiterates.

And in the face of challenges while running her own business, she is determined to ensure her own children don’t sacrifice their education, and hopes child street vendors can find ways to balance business and education.  

“I have learned from the wrong decisions I made as a child vending in the streets that life is hard without education, so thank God I was able to pick up pieces of my puzzle and provide for my children’s education,” she said.

Currently, she registered her plastic flowers business and vends it herself to earn over $200 weekly. Some of her fourteen children are now overseas in search of greener pastures to help her and her husband build a new house.

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