Home is where the heart is.
For Laupati Mulitalo of Lano, although his time is divided between Upolu and Savai’i, there is no better place than the big island.
Speaking to the Village Voice, Mulitalo disagrees with many views that people of Savai’i are struggling and facing more hardship than Upolu.
“I think the struggle they are referring to is having no money,” he said.“But in terms of food, it’s there every day, compared to the life people in Upolu are facing.”
Mr. Mulitalo and his family had just moved to Nu’u.
He said he is disappointed every time he hears about people saying people from Savai’i moved to Upolu because they want an easy life.
“I don’t agree,” he said. “We still give back to Savai’i. Even if people move to Upolu, they are still serving their families, villages and churches in Savai’i.
“We don’t just eat and relax in Upolu we work and provide for our families here too.”
Money is everything these days, he said.
“Look, if we live in Upolu we still have to come back to Savai’i to attend to a funeral, village meetings or reunions those are the gatherings you get to go back to see your village.
“Because we cannot forget about our families, wherever we are, we are always connected to where our roots are.”
“I am here for a family funeral but I live there, this is what we are obligated to do because it’s a part of us that we cannot neglect,” he said.
In Savai’i, your families are your neighbours and the whole village is your family.
“You can ask your neighbours for taro, coconut and sugar. All you have to do is ask.”
But in Upolu you don’t really know your neighbours and it’s embarrassing to ask them for food.
“I believe people in Savai’i are living a more peaceful life than us back in Upolu.”
Mr. Mulitalo also voiced his concerns about the rules set by many villages.
He said not every family had moved to Upolu because they wanted to but a lot of people left their villages because they were being banned for one thing or another.
“But where are they sending these people to?
“Especially when children are being banned from their village because of theft and their parents are still living in the village.
“Where are they sending this child to while their parents are living in the village to teach them some discipline?”
Mr. Mulitalo said Savai’i has the highest cost of living.
“If I look at the way this country is being developed, it’s divided into zones.
“Upolu is Zone A, then to Salelologa Zone B, Itu o Tane is Zone C and Asau in Zone D.
“Because for example, if the sugar is 50 sene in Upolu, it will be $1 in Zone B, $1.50 in Zone C by the time it reaches Zone D it will be $2.
“I think this shouldn’t happen.
“Because we are living in one country, and we should be treated equally.”
Mr. Mulitalo said the government should balance development because it looks like Upolu is getting more development than Savai’i.
“I lived here for more than 20 years but it seems like nothing has changed.”
Speaking of churches, Mulitalo said this is another reason why families in Savai’i are suffering.
But they need to give in accordance with what they have.
“That will solve all our problems.”