Another day another opportunity to work the land.
That’s exactly what Mauga Atuatasi from the village of Letogo was doing yesterday when he was spotted by the Village Voice team tending to his plantation.
Aged 60, Mauga understands that the only true value of life lies within hard work.
“Plantations are supposed to be measured by the person’s strength,” he said with pride.
“My small plantation has one banana tree for every five taros. I see this as a good way for my old body to get some exercise.
“I don’t use any chemicals for the plantation; it’s all done with hard work. The only thing I’m worried about is the quality of the soil.
“I have different types of banana trees growing and some grow better than others. This is just for me to keep my body working.”
Asked if he had any problems with life he simply says he only has one.
“The only problems I face is money,” Mauga said.
“With my plantation I have to wait for so many months before it turns a profit. But it’s good for producing food for the family.”
Even with some of his children employed, they still have more to spend on than what is earned.
“With my children’s jobs their pay goes to a lot of things,” Mauga said.
“As soon as they get it you see the church wanting a piece, money is spent on things for the government, church obligations, their children’s schooling and of course, food for the stomach.
“The only thing we are proud of here in Samoa is our stomach, we work hard not to get a white man’s house or a nice car, we work to fill our stomachs.
“If our stomach is not satisfied then we are not satisfied.”
And with inflation on goods, life isn’t getting any easier for Mauga and his family.
“The cost of living is always increasing,” he said.
“The price of everything is increasing to balance out all the imports. Many people in Samoa don’t understand this because we don’t pay attention.
“They throw in a lot of G.S.T. and the price just keeps growing. Life is just so expensive nowadays.”
According to Mauga, everything in Samoa needs money. He says that the church, government and village eats a lot of money and advises everyone to turn back to the land.
“It’s always a good idea to have a small plantation like this to fall back on,” he said.
“It will help make it easier to take care of your children because if you don’t, then it’s a sin.”
Mauga follows a simple but very important moral, Family comes first.
“Your family must always come first,” he said.
“All other obligations can come after but always put your family first. I have eight girls and one boy who all have their own lands and families.
“Raising my family wasn’t easy; we didn’t have enough money because a lot of it went to feeding the children and buying diapers.”
And on the popular subject of poverty, Mauga strongly believes that Samoa is without it.
“There is absolutely no poverty in Samoa,” he said.
“If people are poor then it’s from their own doing. You are poor if you make yourself poor. People say they are poor but they can eat food from the land and the sea.
“We are not like the overseas countries with true poverty. We see people who are very hungry all desperate and skinny.”
Although Mauga believes there isn’t any poverty, he feels that the government is should still helps it’s people.
“The government needs to start helping the families of Samoa,” he said.
“Even if they help one or help a whole family, they need to help everyone and not just focus on those who are well-off. That’s what I’ve noticed, they tend to help the strong and look away from the weak.”