When a family lives in a small hut where crawling is required to get in and with less surface area than an average dining table, it’s hard to say for certain that there is no poverty in Samoa.
That’s exactly how So’o Papa’aulila from the village of Manono, Lepuiai and her family are living.
Aged 42, the famil’s house occupies a small patch of swamp land with her husband and her four children.
“I only have four children and they are very young girls,” So’o said.
“My family lives off of the sea and we have no one employed and no one we can contact overseas for assistance. We have families overseas but they don’t help and we remain poor.”
So’o is struggling to make ends meet with a small stall selling food and coconut oil while her husband is out catching fish.
“The reason we started selling these bottles of oil is because when my husband gets sick then we have something to fall back on,” she said.
“We also sell little plates of food like chicken stir fry to help look after the family.”
Earning just enough to get by each day, So’o and her family also have to deal with obligations.
“The hardships we face is that there are too many things that use up the money,” she said.
“We have village and church obligations, schooling costs for the children and basic needs for the family. The money we make from the fish and our stall is just not enough.”
Another hardship faced by the family is the judgment; So’o says that everyone tends to look down on them just because they don’t have much.
The family was even forced to take apart some tin from the house to make the stall just so they can earn some money.
But no matter how far down they fall, So’o prioritizes the future of her children.
“My children are all in school,” she said.
“No matter how poor we are, I prioritize my children’s schooling. I want them to grow up and have a better life than we have now.”
“They know how tough life is right now so they can change it for themselves after they graduate from school.”
According to So’o, her family and a lot of poor people are neglected by the government.
“Right now the government isn’t providing any assistance to my family,” she said.
“My family is providing for ourselves.It would be nice if they paid more attention on families who really need their help.”
“Right now, even though we have nothing we are still trying.”
All in all, the struggling mother believes that Samoa does have poverty and her family is an example of that.
“I believe there is poverty in Samoa and to make things worse, the cost of living is very expensive,” she said.
“There are people with so much but it’s hard to find those who will show a little bit of love or those who will help people who are desparately in need of help like us.”