A life of hardship and struggles

By Vatapuia Maiava and Ilia L. Likou ,

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WE HAVEN’T HAD WATER FOR THREE YEARS NOW: Kolopa Fili, 31, from the village of Saleimoa with her children.

WE HAVEN’T HAD WATER FOR THREE YEARS NOW: Kolopa Fili, 31, from the village of Saleimoa with her children.

They say the first step towards solving a problem is recognising there is one.

Unlike many families in Samoa, Kolopa Fili, from the village of Saleimoa is not afraid to admit her family is struggling.

With her husband earning the family $80 tala a week, Kolopa says it’s just not enough. They even had their water cut-off three years ago because they couldn’t afford to pay for it.

“I admit, we don’t have any water source now,” she told the Village Voice.

“We had water before but we couldn’t afford it so we got cut off. It’s been about three years and the bill is so much now. We can’t afford it.”

“We went to the Samoa Water Authority and request if they can help us out a little but they said we need to clear our bill first. It’s too much for us so we simply can’t get water.”

They manage to get some help with their water problem from nearby families but it’s just not enough.

“The family living back there is where we get our water from,” Kolopa said.

“When we need water for cooking, showering or laundry then we ask them if we can use their water. One of my concerns is my Children who are schooling, they need water.”

“We just can’t afford it.”

Asked for their plans to solve the water problem, Kolopa says they are looking into trying to get a water tank.

“The one thing we are looking to now is a water tank,” she said.

“To be able to store water from rain inside a water tank will be great for my family. We can’t get water any other way so we are trying to get that tank.”

“When we use our neighbour’s water then we always help with their bill.”

Kolopa Fili’s house at Saleimoa.
Kolopa Fili’s house at Saleimoa.

Another issue Kolopa and her family faces is not having enough money. Although her husband works very hard, minimum wage always has the last say.

“The man of the house works very hard,” she said.

“But it’s not like those jobs which pay a lot. The job is also all the way in town so sometimes he would have to sleep at his siblings house over there.”

“He has no other choice because sometimes we can’t afford transportation. All of the money goes to taking care of the family and we only have something nice to eat like chicken on Sundays.”

“I try and manage the money wisely so we can take care of as many things as possible.”

Kolopa says that the weekly $80 earned by her husband can barely keep the family afloat.

“My husband comes home at the end of the week with his $80 pay,” she said.

“By the time we get to Monday, there is nothing left because there are too many things that need money. The money is just not enough.”

“We have to buy things for food, bus fares, and other small things and $80 can’t cover everything but we still try and manage.”

Asked if there is poverty in Samoa, Kolopa says that those who deny it are scared to admit it.

“People know there is poverty in Samoa,” she said.

“Not having enough money and with the very high cost of living, that’s what I believe poverty is and many families fall under that category.”

“People are just scared to admit it.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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