An article published on the front page of the Samoa Observer this week with the headline “Samoa shamed in ‘worst forms of child labour" has exposed the issue of child slavery in Samoa once more. The article details the findings of a United States Bureau of International Labour Affairs study which highlighted forms of child labour in Samoa. In today’s Street Talk, Reporter, Nefertiti Matatia, asked: Is it the parents or the Government’s responsibility to alleviate child labour? This is what they said:
Ricky Faamui,58, Vaiusu
Every child should be in the classroom not walking around selling bongos and sodas. It is not right for them to be on the streets and all of this is because of parents not doing their jobs. The parents should place their children in schools to have a better life, not walking around during school hours selling things. As a parent, we look ahead of time and see where my child would end up next if this is what they do. When I pass on I ask myself where would my children end up, would they be able to look after themselves and will they be able to live life? Samoa today is not the same, life has become costly. If you don’t have an experience in education, but just selling goods, what bright future would your child have? The child would not be able to have a job when they reach the right age to work. They would end up stealing things because they don’t have any money. There is a major difference when a child is being sent to school. They will become smart and have a job which will result to having a stable life. Selling sodas your whole life will not lead the kid anywhere and it is nobody else’s fault but the parents because they are the ones who send them to sell the goods to earn money. I love my children, which is the reason I come to sell these things and for them to attend school instead. My children are in school while I come out to do the delivery.
Tavita Sasi,49, Vaiusu
I believe that with this issue, both the Government and the parents are at fault. The Government is not making the law which they have already established to be compulsory enough to make children stay in schools instead of being on the streets. Having children and knowing that they are not able to look after them is where the parents go wrong. Both the Government and the parents have a contribution to this matter. But this is also a sign that poverty in Samoa is definitely real. The Government has a responsibility to the welfare of each citizen of this country. They have vowed to go into Parliament and for the people to vote for them because they could alleviate such problems. For any parent, they are called to nurture and love their children, not send them on the streets to sell things in the middle of the night and everywhere during school hours. There is no future that the streets will promise to give your child if you are going to send them there, which is sad because the parents just gave up the child’s opportunity of having a better life. We would never know that maybe one of these children would be the future Prime Minister of this country or a future lawyer, but unfortunately the parents have taken a different path for them.
Aiolupo Tusipese Maiava,
Aiolupo Tusipese Maiava,42, Vaitele-Fou
In this life that we live in, there is nothing that the child can do. We are all struggling to earn a living, but if the parents really love their children, they would not use them as a vessel of earning money or even allow them to go on the streets to sell goods. They are the ones who are supposed to provide ways to look for money to be able to feed the whole family, especially their children. Kids should not be sent out to sell goods. There is a verse in a song that is now trending, regardless of how deep the ocean maybe, the fishes would always know where they are called to be, same thing for the parents and the children. The child would grow and know who they are, their identity and what they have been called to be. The parents are responsible for such cases. If the parents are good, the child would grow up having a stable life and earn money to support their own family, but if the parents are careless, they would grow up being poor and don’t know where they will end up and when they have their own children, the same thing would happen to them.
Junior Leala,38, Leufisa
It is all the parents’ fault, a child’s first classroom is home. It is where they are taught how to walk and talk, but above all, having morals in life with this fallen planet that we live in. Evil is present everywhere whether we like it or not, but this is where the values that the parents have taught the child will be applied to; doing what is right. For those children who sell goods everywhere in town, their parents surely told them to go and sell those things to earn money. In my own opinion, some of them are beaten up if they do not receive a certain amount of money for all the products that were sold. Maybe some parents push their children to sell things because they are poor and it is their only way of earning money to pay off their bills, school fees of the children and certain things like that. In those cases I reckon that parents are right, on the other hand, it is for the children to have food and bus fares for schools.
Vaalele Simati,71, Vaimoso
The parents must have a concern for the children to look after them and send them to school, which is worthwhile as well as the Government, it is not only one side. The two cooperate and support each other. To work together as a team. I believe it will be a success if they work together. The parents must love their children and the Government must love their people, since these kids are the future of this nation. So it is both of them, not just one side. I will not go for one side because if the parents leave it to the Government to do everything, it is not good because parents have their responsibility. If the Government leaves it to the parents, it is also not good but if they work hand in hand, it will make a big difference. They must support each other to make things better for this country.