For Mafa Maotu, from the village of Malie, life is difficult, but when working together and sharing the load, it gets a little easier.
Aged 49, Mafa runs a joint market stall with a few other villagers. She believes that bringing the crops together into one stall creates more variety of options which helps bring more customers.
Mafa explained about how a small business like this is a great support.
“This road-side stall helps my family so much,” she told the Village Voice.
“The money we earn goes towards the family’s necessities especially with the children’s school expenses. We don’t earn much but the money still goes a long way. It’s good, honest money for us.
“The money also goes towards helping out with our many obligations; may it be with things to do in the village or the church.”
Greeting customers with a smile and working hard all day, Mafa is able to rake in as much as $300 a day.
“We have been earning money this way for a while now,” she said.
“This one stall is used by many different people; we bring crops from our plantation and then we take turns looking after it all. It’s a good way of working together and it helps our sales a lot since people see a lot of things offered.
“The money we gather in a day is divided amongst us all. We can make up to $300 a day or as low as $20 from sales. It depends on how many customers we get.”
Mafa believes that if hard work isn’t put in, nothing can ever be earned for those you love.
“Things here in Samoa have become very hard,” she said.
“But I guess that’s how life is meant to be. If your forehead doesn’t sweat then you will not get anywhere in life. If you don’t want your family to suffer then you will do whatever it takes to provide for them.
“Laziness will get you nowhere in life.”
But no matter how hard she works, Mafa still encounters a few struggles in life; one of them being the notorious ‘faalavelave’.
“There aren’t many problems happening in our family,” she said.
“We haven’t paid the bills for the children but we are ok with taking care of everything else that needs to be done. Like all other Samoans, we struggle a lot with family gatherings (faalavelave).
“That part of our culture is very hard to dodge but we do what we can to make things work. Another thing we struggle with is the expensiveness of life.
“We try work hard so that we can afford things we need.”
Using her own personal struggles, Mafa tries to understand her customers and also going as far as to help them when needed.
“Since we know what it’s like to struggle, we try and help those we can,” she said.
“An example is when people come over to purchase something from our stall; we give them a little something extra to help their family. We give a bag of eggplants or some koko.
“That’s just how we are.”