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Living proof of rural poverty

Monday 29 August 2016 | Published in Regional

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SAMOA – A recent report has revealed that there is extreme hardship in Samoa and for one family at the village of Siumu, they say they are the living proof.

62-year-old mother and grandmother Faatolu Seigafo of Siumu told the Samoa Observer that life in the rural area is not as easy as the life in town.

“When we talk about poverty we refer to money – because money is everything and so life is hard when it comes to money,” she said. “With our family we have only one working person and that is my son who is employed at the Sinalei Resort.

“His pay helps us to pay for one of his brother’s children and then we have church commitment, as well as the village commitments.

“However, with the village commitment we can afford but as for church and school that is where we suffer.

“I have three grandchildren who are attending school at the moment and they all need money for registration and then, we have their lunch to worry about and then school activities that also requires us parents to fork out money for their tausala.

“It’s very hard because sometimes I complain to the teachers that not all families are rich but they are demanding money for this and that – but they don’t know how hard it is for other families to survive.”

Seigafo said that not only the problem with the schools but also with the churches as well.

“I know that this problem doesn’t happen in just one village – it happens in all the villages and to everyone else.

“Sometime I think that we are more worried about how we are going to give to the church but at the end we suffer because we don’t know how we are going to feed our families.

“That is the problem that the government doesn’t know about the life here in the rural – commitment is everywhere and all those commitments requires us to give money.”

Ask about what she thinks the government should do, Seigafo said the government should come up with real ways to help the villages in the rural areas.

“This is hardship here, not in the town area,” she said. “We should be able to be treated the same way as people in Apia are being treated but it seems like they are more focusing on the development of Apia rather than focusing on us too.

“We need help in any way, we are not telling them to give us money for free – we are basically asking them to provide more opportunities for our children to work so they can look after our family.

“What we are asking for is help to give opportunities for the young ones because they are the ones who are looking after our family.

“We know that the cost of living is sky rocketing but that is how it is, but at least help the people of Samoa first before you consider helping others.”

Another Samoan mother is also finding the standard of living in the villages just a little bit too difficult to handle.

Barely getting by every day, Nive Tulaga has found herself caretaking for her elderly mother and putting her five children in school all with what she earns selling crops from her small plantation.

“Life in the rural villages is hard,” she said. “I am currently unemployed but I’m trying to find another job to help out.

“We need money to help with everyday life – I have a sibling in Apia who works but they need to support their own family but for us we are struggling.

“The cost of living is too high nowadays,” she said. “If you don’t have work then your children won’t eat – simple as that. Right now we are living on our plantation and that is our only source of money.

“There is so many things to do here in the rural villages and we don’t know where we can find the money to do them all.”

- Samoa Observer