As mothers throughout the country are being honoured today, the commemoration of International Nurses Day couldn’t have come at a better time.
With the day especially dedicated to the role of mothers, the celebration of the important roles played by mothers and nurses that are quite synonymous in every aspect is a joyous occasion.
President of the Samoa Nurses Association Incorporated, Soliafi Papalii Pisimaka, shares with the Sunday Samoan about the challenges of being a mother and a nurse at the same time.
“Beside every successful leader or father is always a good mother,” she said.
Solialofi is a mother of eight, has 25 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
She graduated from nursing school in 1968 and has been a nurse for 44 years.
She later became Vice President of Samoa Nurses Association Incorporated in 1993 for 25 years.
“I believe that a mother’s role is in the form of a pyramid, a father, children and extended family,” she said.
The 73-year-old from Matautu utilised her management skills to balance the roles she played on a daily basis – mother and a nurse.
This, she said, avoids any conflicts when it comes to fulfilling the expectations of her roles.
“A mother’s duties not only include food preparation, washing clothes, cleaning the house, but also proficiency in executing all tasks."
“We lived through poverty in those days and it was a struggle, but mothers are known to be very good at practical performance, meaning they budget from food to finances and not only care for her family,” said the Nurse Association President.
Soliafi spoke about the hurdles she encounters on a daily basis, which she overcomes with patience.
“Mothers are always busy. In my case, my children were born year after year so the chores always pile up and it becomes a great challenge. Never depend on yourself because performing duties in church, villages especially homes, it needs unlimited faith in God to lead and guide through everything.
“In those days, if I have the same time schedule with my husband for work and there is no one to look after the kids, I take the kids to work with me,” she said.
Soliafi’s greatest concern is the safety of her children, but her role as a mother to be the guiding light of the home helps her ensure to make right choices.
She mentioned almost everything in life falls on the mother.
“I believe that my experience as a mother helped me in caring and nurturing patients because a nurse’s responsibility is to care for the lives of those she’s in charge of.”
Fiu Fetina’i Leaupepe
Fiu Fetina’i Leaupepe plays a similar role but at another place.
She is a volunteer counselor at the Samoa Victim Support Group shelter, a mother of four and a nurse. The 72-year-old is from Vaitele Fou.
“In those days it was a struggle to work and be a mother at the same time,” Fiu said.
Fiu acknowledged that it was her family members who helped look after children when she was faced with trying to balance multiple tasks.
Her nursing schedule rotated from Tuasivi Hospital, Motootua Hospital, Afega Hostpital, Aleipata Hospital, Leulumoega Hospital, Falelatai Hospital and then back to Leulumoega Hospital.
She is the wife of former Member of Parliament Leaupepe Pita, who Fiu says is also a farmer outside of Parliament.
It wasn’t an easy task.
“I am also a farmer’s wife. We work hard on the plantation with our young kids. We leave at 6am and come home around 11am every day.
“Every Sunday umu we wake up around 4:30am, prepare the food, when ready we go to church. After church my husband stay for his duties in the church community, kids attend Sunday school while I go home to get the food prepared.
“Sometimes when I have no bus fare, I walk all the way to the pastor’s house while carrying the prepared food on my shoulders. It would take me 30 minutes to reach his house.”
Fiu expressed her love for her children because at a young age they would help with every day chores.
Tables turned, and hardships became easier for Fiu when she migrated to New Zealand with her family.
She mentioned that getting her first pay cheque in N.Z. was enough to cater for their needs, when compared to their life in Samoa.
“I first worked at the Union delegate at Engineering Union in New Zealand.”
Fiu explained she worked as a nurse at the Capital & Coast District Health Board in New Zealand and retired at the age of 70.
While being a nurse and a mother, she was also a part-time Alcohol and Anger Management Counsellor at Pacific Motu Trust Training Programs in 1992.
In 1995, she graduated with a certificate in course of instruction in Fire & Earthquake Preparedness and Management at Capital Coast Health, Wellington.
She also worked with prisoners at Rimutaka Prison and Arahata Prison and was awarded multiple certificates for various courses and programmes she involved herself in.
As of this moment, she’s a volunteer counselor at S.V.S.G.
“My heart is passionate about my volunteer work. My interest in the work is motivated because of results, the lives that have changed through my work.”