Views and opinions vary on whether poverty exists in Samoa.
Some argue that there is no such thing considering the lush and green environment we have, and the blue ocean where our people can get food and money.
However, Fa’alelei Eti begs to differ. He thinks poverty exists in Samoa.
Fa’alelei is from the village of Faleula-Uta and he owns and operates a peanut plantation.
To support his argument, Fa’alelei said the first proof poverty exists in Samoa is when we look at how families struggle to budget their money on a daily basis.
“You can’t say that there is no poverty in Samoa, because realistically speaking, there is poverty in Samoa,” Fa’alelei told the Village Voice.
“The first thing we need to look at to prove this is look at how we budget our money. That is one of the toughest things to do nowadays.
“We struggle trying to stretch the money we get to cover a whole week or two.
“The cost of things is not helping at all. It’s true that we have so many different shops nowadays, but the prices of goods keep increasing as well.
“Other people also say all is well in Samoa, but for me, it is not.
“How can you say that all is well when we struggle to find money even for sugar? It’s also hard to find goods below $1 these days.”
He went on to say that because of the expensive cost of living we have and the low income we get, many people don’t have savings as a result of this.
“Most of us want to save money for our childrens’ future and for our families,” he said.
“But where can we get money to save when the little money we get go straight to paying the bills, fa’alavelave and other things?
“That is why I say that poverty does exist in Samoa.”
Moreover, Fa’alelei believes that the people who say that there is no poverty in Samoa need to think about the future to realise that there is this issue of poverty in Samoa.
“Yes, you can eat chicken today from the money that you get and then eat the same thing tomorrow.
“But are you able to save any money for the future of your family? You can afford chicken with the little money that you have, but what if you want to build a house?
“I know a lot of people who are employed survive by doing loans. And that’s the truth.
“I understand this because I used to work as well. What happens is that they go to the banks and make loans for all the different things for their families, and then they have to pay it back. What usually happens is that when they get their pay, some only get $10 after clearing all the payments for their loans.
“And that’s not a good thing because we are all providing for our families.”
Fa’alelei has been working on his peanut plantation for three years now.
According to Fa’alelei, he prefers what he is doing now than being employed.
“When I stopped working, I thought to myself that I should do something useful in my life not only for myself but also for my family too.
“It’s useless to just complain and do nothing and rely on others.
“And that’s why I started cultivating peanuts. I’ve earned good money from it better than what I was getting when I was employed.
“I started saving money as well and this has helped me and my family the past three years.”
Lastly, Fa’alelei strongly believes that Samoa will continue to suffer because of the cost of living we have in our country.
“I know that at the rate we’re going, life in Samoa will just get worse in the next 10 years.
“The cost of living will keep going up and the minimum wage will keep going down.
“And that’s why I say that poverty exists in Samoa, because I see that people are struggling.”