Si’ueva To’ia, from the village of Utuali’i, believes that the best way to live is by working off the land and sea.
Aged 42, Si’ueva works hard to provide for his family through true island skills.
When his family is hungry he goes out to sea to catch some fish then gathers some breadfruit for the dinner and washes it down with a nice cup of lemon leaf tea.
The only thing that puzzles this fisherman is why people want to live expensive, extravagant lifestyles when everything is available on the land and in the sea.
“The way I see Samoa, there is no such thing as poverty here,” Si’ueva told the Village Voice.
“Only the lazy struggle with poverty but if you don’t just sit around and you go and do something to help your family then you’ll be fine. The Lord will help those who help themselves.
“I am just thankful that we have crops like breadfruit growing everywhere which is a good source of food for everyone.
“If we don’t have anything nice to eat then we just have breadfruit and lemon leaf tea and that’s enough for me and my family.”
Si’ueva says that village life can be as simple as you want it to be. You can catch or grow your food so that you don’t have to worry about feeding your family.
“As you can see I am just looking for some fish to cook with coconut for tonight’s meal,” he said.
“That’s how easy life is for us in the village, if we want something to eat then we can go to the land or the sea. Working hard will make life a little easier for you.
“I put my children through school from selling these fish. The money I make may not be a lot but it takes care of the children’s needs and that’s all that matters.
“That’s what hard work will get you. We don’t live extravagantly; most of our effort is put towards gathering ocean resources. We live off both the land and sea but mostly the sea.”
According to Si’ueva, he makes his way to the sea every morning because it’s the best time to catch some fish to sell and to eat for that day.
“Mornings are the best for fishing and that’s why I am here at this time,” he said.
“I don’t come out here every day; I measure my work out here with what I need, if we need fish for food then I’ll come out here for a little while.
“If we need money then I’ll stay a little longer; it all depends on our needs. As you can see by the way I fish, I have been doing this for a while. It’s both good for money and for daily meals.”
While many other villagers complain about obligations causing them much grief, Si’ueva says that this is not the case in his village.
“There aren’t many church or village activities which require our money here,” he said.
“Everything is alright and we can focus more on making ends meet with our family. I think enforcing those obligations is the cause of many struggles but my village don’t, so we’re alright here.”
The only time Si’ueva and his family struggle and need money is when they have the occasional family gatherings which require people to dig deep into their pockets.
“The only issue is when we have a lot of things to do like a faalavelave,” he said.
“My wife’s family really helps us out in times of need. If we are desperate then they send us some money to take care of things.
“We only need help because my children are still young and schooling so earning money from fish is slow. We only ask in times of real emergency.
“So yeah, that’s a little peek into my life.”