Side business slows for local farmer

A farmer who had been subsidising his income delivering freight for families, has told of the impact state of emergency restrictions have had on his livelihood.

Sooalo Taua Sepulona, a 54-year-old father of Avao, Savaii, said he is eager for borders to reopen so his small business can return to pre-pandemic prosperity.

Gifted a 'dyna' truck from an uncle, Sooalo said he had to come up with different uses for the truck in order to make the most of his blessing to maintain a steady source of income to support his children. 

"I was living in Avao, looking after my family. Like other Samoans, I took care of them and provided what I could as a fatu-aiga-tausi (means of providing).

"My parents and most of my uncles and aunties passed away while I stayed on to serve my family."

The farmer said his love of working the land and cultivating crops lead him to be gifted with his truck in 2016, by his uncle Mose who lives in New Zealand.

"He bought me a truck from Ott Transport for $96,000 to help me with my plantation. Then he told me to find land in Apia for us to live and for my children to go to school and get a better education. 

"So he bought us land at Siusega."

All set up for life in the big smoke, Sooalo said he made connections with representatives from freight services and he was given the idea of using his truck for deliveries, to help families who were unable to transport their cargo from overseas. 

"I made a deal with Custom Logistic Services. I started in 2017 and I made almost $3000 in one week. 

"That money helped us, to start my children with new schools in Apia and my older son who just graduated from the Marine School. I worked full time with my truck to get money to help my family, not only for church things but also family obligations (faalavelave)."

But the global pandemic put a sudden stop to the prosperity.

"When the covid 19 pandemic struck, things were not the same. I didn’t get many opportunities like before. I’m still working with Custom Logistic Service but the pandemic slowed us right down, same as many other services in Samoa. 

"So I’m using my truck to supply coconut and firewood from Savaii to sell here in Apia, to keep us going and wait for things to go back to normal.”

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