Apiuta Atia’e is a 69-year-old father of six from the village of Faleula
He believes there is no poverty in Samoa but the nation is suffering as the result of too many fa’alavelave (traditional obligations).
“I have lived long enough to prove to you that there is no poverty in Samoa,” he said.
“We all work hard for our families. Your future is in your own hands. So if you don’t work, then you will suffer. No one has died of hunger in this country.”
“The only problem is just that fa’alavelave are too much to handle. It’s a burden because there are times when we are so hard on ourselves because we cannot give anything.”
Apiuta said the other problem is there are so many fa’alavelave.
“Just last week, we had a family wedding, this week we also got a funeral. Just now I was told by my older son that we are having another wedding next week.”
“So it just goes on.”
The elderly man said it’s part of life in Samoa but it would be nice if there were fewer.
“Isn’t it too much? It all happens at the same time.”
“It’s not like money just falls from trees we just have to collect it and give it.”
The father said his children have grown and they too have families to take care of. That’s their priority now.
“I’ve got two sons working but they’ve got their own families to care for. If they do give me some money to help, I’m grateful.”
“I have a plantation but it’s not ready for harvest.”
“So that’s why I’m still walking around to see where I can get help from.”
Back to the issue of poverty, Apiuta said people only struggle when they don’t work hard enough.
“There is no connection of having no money and poverty to me personally,” he said.
“We have lands and the sea where we can fetch food from everyday.”
“It’s simple. If you don’t have a job, you can have a plantation or go fishing. We also have a lot of different talents from God that we can use to get money for our families.”