A gesture by a local company meant to help the small businesses affected by the recent fire at the Savalalo market has left a sour taste in the mouths of some of them.
Last week, Federal Pacific Insurance donated $20,000 to stall owners as part of the company’s assistance.
But instead of simply handing over the cash to more than 200 stall owners affected, the company with assistance from the Samoa Land Corporation had a draw.
Fifty names were drawn and each of them received $400 each.
They were obviously rejoicing.
But some of the other 150 stall owners were not.
Marjean Fe’esago, of Cece’s Bingo, said it was an insult to her and many other stall owners who left bitterly disappointed.
“If they said that this is to help those who were affected by the fire, then they should include everyone under this roof when they distributed their $20,000,” Mrs. Fe’esago said.
“Even if it’s five tala or ten tala, that will do. It is still help. But to only pick out 50 operators is not only unfair, it is insulting to us.”
Contacted for a comment, the General Manager of Federal Pacific Insurance, Namualuulu Sami Leota, said the gesture was not meant to offend anyone.
He said the decision was made purely out of their desire to help the victims of the fire.
But Mrs. Fe’esago said this might well have been the case but the way it was done was not right.
“They shouldn’t have given it if that was the case,” she said.
“They should go and give it straight to those that they wanted to help instead of naming it as a help to all stall owners.”
Mrs. Fe’esago said she is speaking up to voice what many of them feel.
“This is totally unfair…they should consider us, the other 150 businesses, as well. If you are going to help, they should give it to everyone instead of letting the other 150 stand there, receiving nothing.
“There are more than 200 stall owners inside this place not just 50.”
Another stall owner, Lui Loniu, said the donation has created ill feelings between the stall owners who received money and the ones who did not.
“It was a bit embarrassing because we were all so hopeful when we were told about the donation.
“But we just stood there when they called out the list and I felt really sad in the end.”
Last week, Namualuulu said: “Unfortunately we cannot give benefits to all 200 stall owners who were affected but we feel it was fair to draw names out of a hat to get the 50 names.
“The purpose of the assistance was for us to give help to those who have been directly affected by the fire. The other purpose was to show that we value our partnership with the government.”