Acknowledging the service of the elderly is the mantra behind a new groundbreaking programme at Matautu Falelatai.
The Village Council is offering pensions of $50 per month to the elders of Matautu Falelatai.
The programme was launched on Saturday with a service conducted by Revered Elder Ta’uti’aga Senara of the E.F.K.S. Church.
Paramount Chief, Anae Misa Pita Anae, said the initiative wasn’t something they thought of overnight.
“The programme is called 'Penisiona Malolo Manumalo Silisili',” Anae told the Samoa Observer yesterday.
“This is our way of acknowledging the service of all the elders in the village, for all their hard work and service to the village and church all throughout their lives."
“Especially those who are confined to bed. The luxurious life we enjoy now is a result of their hard work and dedication to unite our families, villages and church. And that is something we are grateful for."
“Theres a lot of good things they (elders) have done of us, and this is our way of acknowledging their service and give back to them for all the great work they’ve done for us and our children."
“As you know, they no longer have the strength to do all the things they used to do, but they still offer their service for the church and village."
“And that is why we decided to have this programme.”
Anae went on to say that this initiative was made purely out of love and gratitude."
“These are the people who served all the other pastors who served here in our village. Not only that but they also laid a good foundation for us and our children and that is why we thought of doing this for them."
“This is a decision that was made from our hearts. This initiative was born out of love for our people, especially our elderly."
“If this was something that God put into our hearts, I believe it will continue on to the next generation.”
Anae said the programme was widely supported by the matai in the village.
“We had a service on Saturday which was conducted by Reverend Elder Ta’uti’aga Senara. It was a beautiful day for our village."
“Donations were made as well on the same day. And a lot of people support this idea.”
So who is eligible to be a recipient of the pension from the village?
“The main criterion for this programme is for those who have been serving the village all their lives but are now confined to bed and no longer do anything."
“It aims at helping those who can no longer have the strength to do any work but still offers their service for our village.”
And where will the village get money to fund this programme?
“We (the village) have savings,” said Anae. “We have a big village and we also have communities in overseas countries and I believe that it will only grow. "
“I am confident that this will continue because our village is in unity. We have a coalesce community made up of all the people of Matautu Falelatai here in Samoa and also our families and relatives in Australia, New Zealand, America and around the world."
“If this is what God wants us to do, I believe that he won’t abandon us and help us to continue this.”
Anae is positive the new programme will continue on.
“When we planned this, we already looked at all the areas and that was one of the things we looked at."
“But to tell you the truth, nothing is impossible with God. God started this good work in us and I strongly believe that He will carry us through it. We have more than ninety church families (matafale) not including all the other matai in the village."
“I am positive that this programme will continue on. The men and the matai of the village are leading this programme. But I believe that once the women’s committee join in and support the initiative, it will only grow stronger."
“I believe that if we work together, it will never stop.”
Anae also acknowledged the government for the continuation of pensions for the elders in Samoa. However he stated that our people shouldn’t rely on the government too much to do things for us.
“I also thank the government for providing pensions to our people. But I strongly believe that we should not rely too much on the government to survive. That should not be the case. The government cannot do that."
“That’s what I think. I know that God has blessed us in so many ways. Different villages have their own blessings."
“And it’s up to the leaders to lead and make good use of it."
“To me, I think our villages should always take the lead and help their own people.”
How much will the village of Matautu Falelatai give to the elders?
“So they get more than a hundred from the government every month and we will add on to that a $50 every month for the elders. Our whole village accepted and supported this decision happily."
“This is purely out of love for the people of our village. We didn’t come up with this idea in one night. We’ve been planning this for a long time."
“We are also thinking of including elderly mothers who are confined to bed to be included under this programme."
“So next month, we will include the mothers. We have also set up a committee to look at all the areas to make sure that we include all the people who are eligible for this programme.”
Nonetheless, they are also looking at including the people who are bedridden because of permanent illness under this programme.
“As you know, we also have people who are young but are bedridden because of different sickness. We will help them out as well under this programme."
“The main difference between our programme and the government’s programme, for the government, you are eligible once you are 65 years old."
“But for us, we only give out to those who are 70’s or 80 years old and are confined to bed.”