The house belonging to Maota Iosefa of Savaia Lefaga and her family is basic and of a traditional Samoan design.
It has a coconut leaf-roof, wooden posts and wood nailed against the posts around the house – which ensures the children stay under the roof. And old blue canvas hangs down from the roof, protecting one part of the house.
There is a baby – wrapped up in linen – lying in a mosquito net and on a mat in the middle of the house, the simple bedding comfortable enough for the toddler.
The struggle is real for Maota, her husband and their two children but they don’t dwell on their challenges and just get on with life according to the mother of two.
“I live together with my husband and two kids – they are both girls and my youngest is nearly a year old. As you can see with your own eyes the state we are in, and you might even say that we are struggling.”
“But in all honesty we are more thankful of what we have than dwelling on our struggles. Life is indeed precious and we are thankful to God for the gift of life, even though we live in a broken down shack.”
“We do not have beds, we sleep on mats covering the floor that is made up of soil and rocks,” she said, in an interview with the Village Voice team.
Looking at the basic structure of her family’s house, one can conclude that it wouldn’t stand a chance, against the forces of nature. And the roof leaks when it rains, but Maota says that’s okay and they get by.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel for the family, she says: “Our struggle will soon end, because there are works being done to connect our water, but before we had to depend on the rain and in desperate times we had no choice but ask our neighbours for help. Water is a necessity in life; we cannot cook without water or even quench our thirst without it. We need it to wash our clothes, bath and also wash our dishes. I am so grateful that we will have our water supply fixed soon, but until then we have to bear with our current situation at the moment.”
While fulltime employment can enable the family to get over some of their challenges, Maota said she and her husband were employed and depend on their plantation.
“My husband works the plantation while I look after our kids, I am also very blessed to have him, due to his hard work in caring for our family.”
“His normal routine is waking up early to go to the plantation, and when he has harvested some of his crops, he takes it and sells it to the market and if we are lucky we earn a $100 to support us for a week,” she added.
Most of the family’s weekly earnings are spent on items for their baby girl, such as diapers and milk. And while they have eased into life at Savaia Lefaga, concerns of extreme weather conditions is not far from her mind.
“It only worries me that Samoa is currently in the cyclone season because our home is vulnerable to cyclones. I fear for the lives of my children, but we just moved here recently and it has just been over a year since we settled in. The land we are living in belongs to our family but we used to live at Tanumalala,” Maota said.