“You Gotta Work Hard for Your Money” says Mother Selling Bongos and Soft Drinks for a Living

Asked about the challenges she said the weather always means low sales, but the most hurtful challenge is when people criticise and have a lot to say to her, and then don't buy her product.

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6 March, 2019 Apia Samoa – Siiae Neli has been selling bongos and cans of soft drink for more than 10 years to earn a living.

The 27 year old says life is hard but that’s just how it is.  “In this life, if you don’t sweat, you end up with nothing;

“Nothing comes for free, we gotta work hard for your money and we must not rely on others,”

“O le olaga lava lea tatou te iai, a le afu le muaulu e leai foi se mea e maua.

“E leai se mea e maua ma se filemu e tatou te galulue lava tatou mo tatou, ae tatou te le faamoemoe lava i sesi.”

She and her partner have a 3 year old daughter and the sales commissions she earns from this venture is the only source of income for her young family.

Her ‘job’ doesn’t come with benefits such as NPF, ACC or even a regular pay cheque. Siiae works for someone who buys the goods and gives to her and others to walk around town to sell.

Speaking to Samoa Global News Siiae says she earns between $4 and $20 per day depending on daily sales, adding that these are slow days when people just don’t have the money to buy her products.

“A lelei lava le aso e maua lava la’u $20 tala i le aso, ae a le lelei, ia e maua pe na’o se $4 pe $5 foi.”

That makes her weekly income anything between $20 tala and $100 tala per week. Siiae Neli says she would love to have a full time job in the formal sector instead, where she could have a set pay each week and enjoy the benefits of a full time job.

“E fia maua lava sa’u galuega tumau e tausi ai si a’u tama.”

“A uma lava a’u pusa bongo poo apainu foi e faatau i le aso, ia, e lelei foi le tupe e maua i lena aso. Ae iai aso e lē lelei ai, ia o aso faigata la na.”

Asked about the challenges she said the weather always results in low sales, but the most hurtful challenge is when people criticise and have a lot to say to her, and then don’t buy her product.

She says she would walk from the flea market to Matautu and cover the whole of the town area to sell her products.

“E tusa lava poo le a le tau e iai ou te savali lava e fai la’u kiliva.

“Ou te amata mai lava i le fale faatali pasi i Savalalo ma ou ui mai ai i Fugalei ma le taulaga, o isi aso ou te oo lelei lava i Matautu”

Ask what motivates her to go through the struggle and she said providing for her daughter is her motivation. When she’s feeling tired and unwilling to go on, she thinks of her daughter and this encourages her to work hard.

”Ou te manao ia ola manuia si a’u tama.

“O lo’u malosiaga lea i aso uma ou te usu mai ai, poo le a le vevela o le la ma le maligi o timuga i nisi o taimi ae a ou mafaufau isi a’u tama o lo’o i fale o iina e toe faaosofia ai lesi o’u malosi fou ma lo’u naunau ina ia uma a’u oloa ona fa’atau.”

Siiae said she uses her daily earnings to buy food for her daughter, buying in bulk to ensure the money goes a long way and there’s enough for the whole week.

“A carton of masi biscuits and a box of saimin noodles from Frankie;

“If there’s enough left I buy elegi to have with our taro at home.”

“A le o se pusa saimini o se paelo masi lea e maua ia Frankie e faatau e faasoasoa mo si au tama i le vaiaso.

“Afai a e lava ai se matou elegi e ave e ina’i ai le saka ia ua fa’atau ae ou te faamuamua lava si a’u tama ona ou te le mana’o e fiaa’i pe a ou sau ou te faigaluega.”