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Child vendor says smoking eases pain

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IT'S A HARD LIFE: Asofa from Vaitele-Fou.He takes a deep puff on half a cigarette.

Asofa, from Vaitele-fou, tells me that he scabbed the cigarette off a stranger on the streets. It’s not the only thing he begs people for.

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When he cannot sell them his goods, he asks them for money so he could buy some food and a smoke. For the street vendor, he says smoking helps him ease the pain and shame of begging.

“When I quit school at the age of thirteen, that’s when I started smoking,” he said.

On the streets of Apia, Asofa is among a growing number of young people who have a resorted to a life on the streets selling things to help their families get by. On this day, the items he was selling included perfumes.

“I need to finish selling this stuff so that I could have my pay before night time today, I need to buy some food for my family,” he said.

Asofa should be at school but he is not.

“I didn’t complete my Year 8. I was expelled from school."

"I forgot the reason why. And that’s why I started on the road to sell goods."

“After staying home for three weeks after I was expelled from school, I started to look for a job because I knew my parents wanted me to go and find a job."

Asofa said he comes from a family who has one person who is employed.

As for smoking, he said:

“Smoking eases the pain that I face everyday….whenever I feel hungry I smoke…just like others (street vendors) do."

“It works.”

The 16-year-old walks from Vaitele-Fou to Apia to sell his stuff every morning.

“That is what I do every morning and … it’s very good exercise. Life is expensive nowadays and this is how I contribute to my family."

“I walk the road and do what I do because my family is struggling."

“To me I don’t see anything wrong with me trying to earn a living by selling these perfumes."

 

 

 

 

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