Income generating opportunities in Samoa are limited.
So believes a hardworking father, Paulo Leilua, from the village of Faatoia.
The 58-year-old said life is hard for many and yet all the government does is talk about how hard the people should work but does not provide a pathway to develop their lives.
“I agree that there is poverty in Samoa,” Paulo told the Village Voice.
“If you look around at the state of houses and the living standards people have right now, it’s not right to say that there is notpoverty in Samoa. I think there should be something to push the poor people out of poverty.”
Paulo also said people can’t make big loans if their earnings are insufficient to meet repayments.
“Right now it’s very hard to get a loan of over $1,000 because everything is measured by the pay we get,” he said.
“There are so many different ways to earn money in Samoa but the only thing holding the people back is getting the money to start. People can have small business but with what they earn now, it’s less likely they can afford it. We have very limited options right now in Samoa.
“We can have a small plantation but to get it to a level to earn a lot of money, we need money.”
Aside from the Samoa Commercial Bank’s (S.C.B.) most recent form of assistance through their Loan Scheme, Paulo said that the government hasn’t even lifted a finger to help their people the same way.
“If the government wants their people to work very hard then why don’t they do something to help give loans to the poor people?” he said.
“They talk but they don’t give the people a way to help themselves. We can’t develop our own lives because we simply can’t afford it. They need to come up with ways to allow us to make necessary loans.
“People who are paid minimum wage can only afford to pay for food and other small things but what about education expenses? How can we deal with that? They talk yet their people remain poor.”
Furthermore, Paulo says that with our current minimum wage rate, the people can hardly afford anything in Samoa.
“With the pay people get nowadays, it’s only enough for electricity, water and school expenses,” he said.
“Once those are cleared, there is nothing left to take care of the family. Where will we get the money for food after paying off everything?
“We get the pay and we already have things to spend it on. Some days my family can’t afford our daily meals which makes me, as a father sad.”
Not earning much is a real problem, but coupled with the increasing cost of living, it only makes matters worse.
“Another thing that makes life really hard is that things are so expensive,” Paulo said.
“For us poor people, trying to make ends meet is nothing easy. We try our best to make the little we have last but it’s very hard. Everything is getting more and more expensive.
“All the expenses such as water and electricity is costing ridiculous amounts of money. On top of that, the schools these days are costing us parents a lot of money.”
Paulo currently works at the Bahai temple and with his pay, he puts all of his children through school and stretches what he earns as much as possible to take care of the family.
“I work for the Bahai up here and I get paid under the church,” he said.
“I am the only one who is employed in my small family. My four children are all currently schooling and this is the job that pays for their expenses.
“One of them will be graduating next year.”