Hard work pays off.
That is the belief of 19-year-old Ueli Uelese of Lauli’i, who has opted to be a gardener to help his family.
“I have always wanted to be a Police officer, but because my family could not afford college fees, I had to accept the reality that my dream was only that, just a dream.”
“However, that is not a big deal anymore. I guess I wanted to be a cop, which is a steady job to provide for my family and I’ve settled with being a gardener.”
The Village Voice team met Ueli walking alongside the road to catch the bus to Lauli’i to spend the weekend with his family.
“I work for the Brunt family in Tanumapu’a for a little over three months now, and I’m earning up to $200 weekly to cater to the needs of their flowers.”
“I have a thing for fresh flower hence settling for this job,” said Ueli. “After all it’s not a guy thing, let alone a Samoan guy.”
According to Ueli, he has been a gardener for a long time.
“I started when I was about 16, but then I went to American Samoa seeking better opportunities but it didn’t work out, so I’m back with my parents.”
“And I came back gardening and I love it,” said Ueli.
The eldest of six siblings, Ueli is the only breadwinner of the family.
“My parents work on the plantation and I have younger siblings who are in school, and so the money I get from my pay check goes to my parents to help out,” he said.
Furthermore, Ueli also expressed concerns about the high cost of living.
“I am thankful to the Government there are free public schools, there are minimal fees to see the doctors which caters directly to families like ours who get very small money.”
“However, I hope they consider the fact the cost of living is quite ridiculous.”
“Almost everything has increased.”
“I was surprised the cost for the kilo for chicken has increased and that is because the Government has levied taxes on the chicken, of all the things they can tax, they opt for the chicken too?”
Ueli said his family can only afford chicken and for their family of eight, they buy four chicken legs, chop it and fill up the pot with water for soup.
“This is the only way to cook chicken to feed the whole family,” said Ueli.