A story of everyday struggles

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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John Alofa Sauvao

John Alofa Sauvao

Meet John Alofa Sauvao of Faleasiu-uta.

The 38-year-old father of three has a story to tell about poverty that exists in Samoa.

Working as a security guard at one of the shops in the village with a fortnightly income of $150 doesn’t necessarily make the cut, considering the expensive cost of living these days.

And on top of that, his family does not have access to water or electricity to help with their daily survival. 

What’s worse is that he lives with his children, wife and father in a small shack that was pieced together with housing materials he gathered from around the area. 

 “As you can see, these kinds of house people would think don’t exist anymore, but it still does,” Mr. Sauvao told the Village Voice team yesterday.

 “It’s difficult living this way and as a father, my only wish is to give my family a better life.

“However, it’s impossible to give them a better life when you are the only one who works and earns income to ensure that there’s food on the table for your family.

“Then you have church and village commitments that you must be a part of because if you don’t, then you will be punished by the village matais for not doing your duty as a member of the village.”

Mr. Sauvao also spoke of how he was able to put a roof on top of their heads.

“The iron roof of our small shack, I just got them from here and there, but as you can see, it’s all rusty and it has holes on it too,” he said.

“So when it rains, it’s like we are outside because it leaks.

“During the past rainy days, we all had to curl up in one corner because the roof was leaking and there were no tarpaulins to prevent the rain from getting inside the house.

“As much as it breaks my heart looking at my family and our situation, there is nothing I can do.

“I can only hope and pray that one day a Good Samaritan will come knock at our door and lend us a helping hand.”

Small shack that houses John and his wife and their children as well as John's father at Faleasiu Uta.
Small shack that houses John and his wife and their children as well as John's father at Faleasiu Uta.

Mr. Sauvao’s main concern is their way of living and the safety of his young daughter.

“Even the toilet that we use is a pit toilet and I am not ashamed to say it,” he said.

“It’s unhealthy, but what can we do when we don’t have access to water or electricity.

“Having no access to water is the cause of all these problems and we have requested our Member of Parliament for water, but up until now, nothing.

“He hardly comes here too, the only time we would see him is when it’s close to the election and then we hear all these promises that up until now has never come true.

“I keep hearing the government saying there is no poverty in Samoa, but I’m here and I can tell you we are poor and there is poverty in our country.”

He says government ministers need to visit their part of the country so that they can have firsthand experience of people’s poor living condition. 

“It’s just that I don’t think they ever get the chance to come out here and take a drive around and properly look at the way most of us are living,” Mr. Sauvao said. 

“People are poor because the cost of living is sky rocketing and I am telling you that we can barely afford it.

“It’s easy for them to say there’s no poverty because they live inside mansions and drive around in flashy cars, but this is the real world and this is the real Samoa.

“We are suffering and I am urging the government to help us.

“We cannot survive on $150 fortnightly it is just impossible with the cost of living ridiculously increasing every day.

“My plea is for the government and most especially our members of parliament that we had voted for to help us.

“Come and take a drive around here and you will see the difficulties that we are facing every day.”

For those of you willing to help the Sauvao family, please contact them on cell phone numbers 7225310/7520057.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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