The struggles of our relatives overseas

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Dear Editor,

Re: Give them a break

Thank you for this editorial. Once I visited my aunt and uncle, who live in Christchurch, in the middle of the New Zealand winter. 

Every morning my uncle gets up at 4.30am to get ready to go to work. At this time of the morning it is dark and bloody freezing. 

At this time of the year, the wind is biting and on the one time I did venture out to say goodbye to my uncle, I thought I was going to die from exposure to the cold weather. 

Made me realise the tough life my uncle and the Samoans who live in that part of New Zealand face in order to earn a living, and send money to us, the relatives in Samoa.

My uncle is a factory worker and his earnings are not much, only enough to satisfy his family’s needs. 

Last time he came over, he was bestowed with a matai title and he was therefore expected to fulfill his monotaga to the village. He continues to send money on a regular basis to help with these chiefly obligations.

His in-laws decided that the old man (the wife’s dad) needed a car to transport him to church and save him from having to catch the bus to Apia. Trouble was none of the boys in that family knew how to drive and no one had a driver’s licence. 

My uncle bought the new car in NZ, financed through a personal loan, and had it shipped to Samoa. One of the old man’s sons started to learn to drive in the new car. By the time he got his licence the car looked like a 100 year old wreck with dents everywhere. The car was also used as a transport to buy Vailima’s when the boys drank.

All the car expenses including petrol money was sent from NZ.

The old man was happy about the car as a demonstration of the true love (from his daughter), and was a great source of pride in conversations with other old guys in the village about the greatness of NZ as place filled with money. 

My uncle had to work two jobs to help pay for the car. He caught the bus everywhere because his wife used their 20 year old car to deliver and pick up the kids from school. He now suffers from chronic fatigue but there is a wry smile on his face when told that his hard work has enabled his brother-in-law to acquire the life skill of driving a pleasure vehicle.

One would have thought that the son should learn to drive first before getting the car but that is illogical thinking in Samoa.

On one hand I feel annoyed with my uncle with what has happened but on the other hand, he is a contented and happy chap when he is told about the many blessings his father-in-law has showered on him. 

What more do you want?

Vai Autu

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