Water challenge for Samalaeulu family

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi In Savai’i ,

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Life goes on and so does the daily struggle for clean water. Young mother Lizafrieda does her best to keep her children healthy.

Life goes on and so does the daily struggle for clean water. Young mother Lizafrieda does her best to keep her children healthy. (Photo: Elizabeth Ah-Hi)

Water is life and life is all about water.

That’s according to 26-year-old mother, Lizafrieda, from the village of Samalaeulu in the Itu-o-Tane side of Savai’i.

The village sustained the most damage during Tropical Cyclone Gita.

Lizafrieda told the Samoa Observer that the winds started to pick up at 8pm two Fridays ago. 

When the family realised it was going to be serious, they began to get ready and made their way to their grandfather’s house on the other side of the village for shelter. 

 Lizafrieda was relieved that they left their house in time before midnight when the wind started to lift things out of the ground. The challenge now for her family is attaining clean drinking water made harder by the cyclone’s damages.

“It’s all about water. We get our water from the next village over and since a week ago, the water is only just running now,” she said. 

“But it’s not really clean, it’s very brown. We buy our water, it’s really expensive but it’s all for the kids, we have to get it for them so they don’t get sick and I just want to make sure they are healthy.”

The young mother of three lives with her father and for as long as she can remember, her village has always had problems with water, whether it be a lack of or too much of it.

“The hardest thing about living in this area is the water. First we live by the Maloilio River and it overflows all the time during the wet season and comes into our house. When the cyclone hit, it overflowed again but worse this time.

“The kids have been all wet this week because our clothes and the blankets and everything got wet but thankfully now they are dry again.

“Drinking water is a problem always because it’s not really clean so we have to buy the water for the kids to drink because I don’t want them getting diarrhea or typhoid. In Savaii the bottled water is very expensive, for me I can at least just boil the water and drink it.”

Asked whether they had received any help with their water and sanitation dilemmas, Lizafrieda replied she had reached out for help at the Tuasivi branch of the Samoa Red Cross Society and was told to wait for their arrival.

“Not yet. We have been waiting for them. I went there at Tuasivi on Tuesday to ask for some tanks so we can have some fresh water and they told me that the Red Cross is on their way, but we are still waiting. I’m sure that they are on their way they are probably at the other villages right now heading this way.”

Luckily for Lizafrieda’s family, the power was not cut off for very long and it came back on a week ago, but she tells Sunday Samoan that her neighbours weren’t so lucky and they are still waiting for their electricity to be restored. 

At this time, their barbeque shop at the front of their house was destroyed and the large trees around their house were uprooted, but her father and her cousins were working to clear up their property again.

With no jobs in the area, being a single mother and only daughter has its challenges and despite facing harsh living conditions where every day is a fight to obtain the bare necessities, Lizafrieda says she will never leave her village. 

In 2016, she returned to Samalaeulu from New Zealand when she learned her mother passed away. 

She had been studying Bachelor of Nursing and unfortunately she did not complete her studies at the time her mother passed away.

“My mother passed away around Mothers Day in 2016 when I was in New Zealand, my Dad said she suffered from high blood pressure because of Cyclone Amos, which was in March 2016 and then she passed away in May. 

“She got a stroke and I was so shocked and so sad, I’m their only kid, I love my dad, that’s why I will never leave him here by himself.”

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