Put education before everything else

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

After the fun comes reality. And with the Festive Season of last year now only a distant memory, it’s back to school time again with all its joys, sorrows and all other feelings it brings. 

Whatever feelings you have, we know one certainty for this week and the next. There is not a parent in Samoa who would not be feeling the pinch, especially as work has just started.

For sure it’s an exciting time. But it’s also one of the most difficult times for many of us. What with school fees, stationery, lunch money on top of many other obligations, it’s a tough act trying to budget in days like this. 

And if people with steady jobs and regular incomes are struggling, what hope is there for people without jobs? 

Where are parents who only rely on income from the plantation going to go? What about the jobless folks who have six to eight children who all need uniforms, stationery and to have their school fees paid?

These are challenging times. And seeing mothers and families on the Village Voice for the past couple of weeks calling out for help is not surprising at all.

Truth be told, things are tough in Samoa today. Financially, everyone is feeling the pinch. 

It doesn’t help that we have fa’alavelave from Monday to Sunday, every other week of the year.  So what are we to do?

Well in times like this we dig deep. 

And as this column has highlighted in past years, it is moments like this when we need to find those happy memories when we really cherish the value of achievements. And our love for our children.

It’s the stuff that motivates us. It’s what keeps us going when the going gets tough and when we simply don’t feel like we want to continue.

At the start of another school year, thinking of those sweet achievements might be the best thing to do to try and take our minds away and cushion the blows of the cost of sending our children back to school. 

If we truly believe that education is the key to a bright future for our children, we say all the headaches are worth it. All this pain will pale in comparison when we celebrate sweet achievements in another 10 months from now.

Speaking of successes, not so long ago, we celebrated the sweet academic achievements of our sons and daughters here and abroad. 

At the end of the academic year last year, this newspaper had profiled the success stories of students who had excelled at different schools, universities and learning centres right across the country. 

By publishing the stories of their triumphs, our readers were invited to share in their joy and achievements. There is no doubt that it was a wonderful time of celebration, not only for the students but for their parents, families, friends and peers. 

It was a time when all the hardships and challenges were forgotten as tears of joy flowed freely and buried amongst the layers of garlands that reached up all the way to the students’ ears. 

It was not a time to remember all the money that went into their school fees, stationeries, bus fares, lunches, fundraisings and a myriad of other things. Rather it was an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and gratefully acknowledge that it was all worth it.

Why are we talking about this again?

Well it’s simple, sometimes we need to remember those sweet moments. We need to find those happy memories to allow us to persevere.

Indeed, those success stories are a wonderful reminder that there is much satisfaction and success to be achieved if we don’t give up. In this life, when the going gets tough, the battle is all in the mind. Our bodies will naturally want to give up. It will always remind us about our limitations and what we can’t do. 

But our minds and strong will is what allows us to keep moving forward one glorious day at a time. Coupled by an insatiable passion to see our children succeed, it is what drives us to work harder. 

We know this is not an easy time, especially for parents whose income generating abilities are severely restricted.  But as parents, we have a responsibility. We have a role to ensure our children’s education comes first. 

In days like these, sometimes it’s okay to say no to the occasional fa’alavelave to prioritise our children’s education. It will not hurt anyone to miss the faifeau’s alofa (offering) if you have to spend money to send the children back to school. As parents, we are responsible for our children and we are accountable to God about how we perform our role to look after his gifts to us. So put them first.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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