The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.
Pelepesite Uigaga, from the village of Vailele, takes this quote to heart as he continues to pursue his talent in painting.
Aged 56, although his paintings don’t provide much income, Pelepesite refuses to give up.
“It’s just me and my son living here in the house,” he tells the Village Voice.
“No one is employed in this house but I try and make money through my paintings and handicrafts. With my handicrafts, I try and find items that other people don’t carve and I try and make them.
“Things like certain types of turtles and masks.
“There are many people in Samoa who are making the same kind of things but for me, I like to be a bit unique and then take my items straight to my families stall at the market to sell.”
But how much does Pelepesite make from his talents and where does it all go?
“My money goes towards things that are needed and that will make life a little easier,” he said.
“The work I do can provide the family with food. My earnings really depend on what I sell, I sometimes make only $100 a week but it’s enough. As long as we have food then that’s enough for me.”
But making money is Pelepesite’s secondary focus; his only dream is for his art to be recognized.
“The only thing I want is for my talent to be recognized,” he said.
“But I can’t do that because I don’t have enough money. I need the opportunity or an art show to display my art; that’s my dream.
“Without money then making my dream come true is hard. This is my talent but I try and make other handicrafts because not everyone wants to buy paintings.
“Let’s be real, it’s hard to find buyers for these things but I have been an artist for as long as I can remember.”
With only $100 a week, Pelepesite has very limited options. Fixing up the house has been put on hold because the money he makes is only enough for food and electricity.
When asked if he believes there’s poverty in Samoa he says yes.
“Every family is different I guess,” he said.
“Although it’s not enough, I am glad that $100 can still give my small family some food, but for others who have big families and earn about the same, I consider them living in poverty.
“There are many large families who live on less than $100 even though it’s enough to feed just a few people. So there is poverty in Samoa; there are some who are well off and others who are not.”
According to Pelepesite, his village is a great example of poverty.
He says that there were a few people recently caught stealing from another family’s plantation and was banished from the village because they couldn’t pay the village fine.
“Poor people are desperate, and desperate people steal to provide for their family.”