Vaitu’u Iapela’s story is not uncommon in Samoa.
But she is one of a few who have the courage to ask for help.
When the Village Voice caught up with the 47-year-old mother at Lauli’i, she admitted they need help.
“To be honest, we are poor eventhough we try our very best to have what we need,” she said.
“Three of our children are in school and the older ones are just looking for jobs.
“To get straight to the point, we need your help. We could do with whatever cents you can offer to try and put my kids to school.”
There are eight children in the family. So far her kids’ efforts to find jobs have not been successful.
“My 20 year old son and 19 year old daughter, they both finished school here but they’ve been looking for jobs.
“They’ve been telling me that if ever they find work they will make sure our family won’t struggle anymore.”
But that day is a while away.
In the meantime, Vaitu’u sells fa’apāpā and Samoan oil (fanu’u) for a living.
“This is how we support the kids at school,” she said.
“If we do have enough cash, we could buy flour to make some fa’apāpā and have the kids sell it around our village. Or else we collect some coconuts to make Samoan oil to sell as well.
“We enjoy doing it but these are hard times.
“I learn that sometimes people will pull you down and your battle will be uphill but you should never quit. Just keep the faith and keep going.”