Changing lives one tauaga at a time

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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HUMBLE HOME: Valoaga Fonotalaga’s house today.

HUMBLE HOME: Valoaga Fonotalaga’s house today.

The struggle is real for Valoaga Fonotalaga.

But the unemployed father of four from Safa’ato’a, Lefaga, is thankful.

He is especially grateful for the availability of tauaga (used to extract fresh coconut cream and can also be used as a shower scrub) that has allowed his family to survive.

His family used to live in a rundown hut.

But after many years of selling tauaga, he was able to have a cemented foundation house and their own steady water supply.   

Making tauaga is not easy, he said, from walking many miles to collect coconut husks to make the tauaga so that his family could have a meal. 

Life was not easy in the beginning of this year, and his journey started from humble beginnings.  

The Village Voice team found Mr. Fonotalaga and his wife making the tauaga. He shared everything takes time, people may not see the good in tough times but it molds a person for better days.

“We have been living here for a very long time. We have struggled in the past. We have moved from one shack to another and we are still struggling.

“This whole land area that we are living on belongs to our family and these neighbours are our relatives. Everything that we have now is from hard work. We wouldn’t be able to have what we have now if we did not strive to have it.

“But through making tauaga we were able to receive extra cash to build a better house for the sake of our children. Though we do not work or have a stable source of income, we work hard,” said the 45-year-old.

Mr. Fonotalaga said their house is half built because of financial struggles.

“We just started fixing our house in the beginning of the year. We started off with nothing but we have come this far because of determination. We used to live in a rundown shack; everything was unstable in our home.

“The foundation of the house that we live in has just been cemented, but there are still so many things that we need to do with the house. We have already set up our own water supply which is good because water is important,” Mr. Fonotalaga said. 

“At the end of the week we would make $700. There are people who usually order tauaga from us. We make hundred tauaga a day and it is not easy.

“This is what we have been doing for a very long time. The other two kids have travelled overseas and the other two are still young and they are here with us and we have to put them through school as well.

“Even though we have two children who live overseas now, they are going there for better education and for them to have better lives in the future. They will not be working any time soon, so we don’t rely on them.”

Mr. Fonotalaga also spoke of some of their daily challenges. 

“We need a toilet because we are sharing with our other relatives. The struggle is real and we have family commitments, church activities and my children’s schooling that we spend a lot of money on.

“We also need tarpaulins for the house because it is just the front that is covered but not the back and because of that there is no way we could block the rain.”

For anyone who is willing to help Mr. Fonotalaga and his family, contact the number 7238841.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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