A 16-year challenge for family

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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LIFE HAS BEEN HARD: Faatonu Afemai’s house together with his nephews and son.

LIFE HAS BEEN HARD: Faatonu Afemai’s house together with his nephews and son. (Photo: Nefertiti Matatia)

For 16 years, a family in Saleimoa tried to use plastic wrappings as tarpaulins to protect their home during heavy rain and they continue to live with that challenge.  

Faatonu Afemai, an unemployed father of six, spoke about living in a rundown shelter without proper water supply and their ongoing financial challenges. 

But that is not their only problem – they continue to use a water-sealed toilet, which is detrimental to their health. According to Faatonu, their children are vulnerable to diseases due to their surroundings, which is a breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes. 

Speaking to Village Voice, he said life is not easy and he is in urgent need of assistance.

“For the longest time, these are the plastic materials we’ve been using to shelter ourselves from the rain because we cannot afford any tarpaulins. We all try to fit in the house together with our suitcases and some other belongings. Sometimes I wish I could do more, but we have to live within our means,” said the 45-year-old man.  

“With the spread of many illnesses, mosquitoes and flies are some of my main concerns because our house is open. So the food is never safe when left uncovered. As you can see, the condition of the house – that is the reality for my family. Life in Samoa is hard and everything that you would do such as fixing a house would cost you.” 

The lack of a convenient and safe source of water is a concern for the family with Faatonu indicating that they have to rely on relatives. 

“I really need a water tank. We would have to ask our relatives on the other side if we could fill our buckets with water from their place. Water is much needed here because without it, our chores become more difficult to do. We need it for cooking and drinking too.”

His wife works as a babysitter but the income she receives is not enough to cater for the family’s needs, let alone build a proper home for the family. 

 “My wife works as a babysitter and all her pay is being invested into our children’s education. We have four kids who attend school and I work the land and sell my crops. It is the only way we could survive on a daily basis,” Faatonu added.

While he tills the land and his wife goes to work every day, there is an acknowledgment that people who do not work find life difficult. 

“Even though we work the cost of living is expensive, we don’t have any mattresses or mosquito nets. We have to budget the money properly because we also have to put food on the table,” he said.

To offer assistance, Help Samoa is offering free scheduled delivery to all Upolu Village Voice families.

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