On this White Sunday, let this day be a day of reflection
And so here we are again today in Samoa celebrating White Sunday. Folks, time sure flies since it doesn't feel like it was that long ago, when we celebrated the last White Sunday.Not that it matters if you are one of the thousands of young children across the country being spoiled today on your special day as you are given the best of everything.Come to think of it, some adults would give anything to enjoy that privilege – and the simple joy of being care-free, once more.But then in this life, you are only a child once, that’s the truth. It is why it’s so important for adults to always remind the young ones to enjoy being children and allow them to be children. Once they are past that stage, it’s lost forever. All of us adults will have stories to tell.It is for this reason that days like White Sunday are important.It’s true that times have changed and many things have also changed. For instance gone are the days when children used to get so excited about eating chop suey and pisupo on White Sundays.Today, offer the young ones chop suey and pisupo for toanai and they will give you a funny look. Even the sheer joy of eating ice cream and cake on White Sunday is not the same anymore. That’s because we are in 2019 where habits and interests have changed from our days.Besides, these food items are no longer considered luxury, like they were back then. The novelty for many kids has worn off, especially the ones who eat it every other day. We accept that that is not the case for all the children in Samoa.Which brings us to another point. There is more to this day than just food, memory verses and new clothes. Looking across the country, White Sunday is an an opportunity to pause, reflect and consider the problems affecting children.The fact is we live in a very difficult time where we see problems everywhere. We don’t need to tell you about what’s happening in this country. If you are a regular reader of your newspaper, you should be well aware of the issues confronting this nation, especially in relation to children.We’re talking about the growing number abandoned babies, cases of abuse – physical, sexual, emotional - involving children, violence and much, much more. Think about the rising number of children who are being sent out to the streets at odd hours to make money for their families.Let’s not forget the children that are being denied the opportunity to get an education because their parents and circumstances prevent them.Look at the growing number of young kids seeking refuge with organisations like the Samoa Victims Support Group. What does this tell us today?The point is that while it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate White Sunday, there are a lot of issues pertaining to our children we need to seriously think about. We need to think about what’s most important for them and the kind of future we want for them.The story on the front page and the message from the Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Reverend Maauga Motu, could not have come at a better time.While it's nice to enjoy White Sunday, Reverend Motu reminds us to think about the children who are suffering at the hands of their family members every other day. Drawing on his experience of 14 years as a parish Minister, Rev. Motu said abuse is a real issue in Samoa. “I met a lot of parents who did this,” he said. “They punish their children. They beat them. They engage in fights between themselves before the eyes of their children, fight and exchange swear words. I am hard on those kind of parents.”So he should. To be quite frank, that is shameful. But what does the good Reverend offer as a solution? “We have to counsel [parents] to prevent them from continuing with this evil manner of beating, swearing, doing any sort of thing that are evil in the eyes of the children,” Rev. Motu said. “[The parents] must teach [their children] love, kindness. They must hug their children every morning before they go to school. They must treat them well when they come back from school.”We couldn’t agree more. If anything, there is much to be said about the need to change and embrace new attitudes towards parenting and how we raise the next generation of leaders. We need to speak life into their beings, not condemnation and curses that will only pull them down.Lastly, children need our attention as much as our affection. When we don’t give them our attention, they’ll find something else.In this day and age, what children want and need more than anything else is quality time with their parents. Many children are being starved of quality time with their parents because they are too busy. There is always something. There is work, extended family commitments, friends, village, sport and church activities.We wonder why our children don’t listen to us at times. How can they listen if they don’t recognise our voices? And how can they recognise our voice when we are hardly around?The truth is simple enough. If we’re not spending time with our children, they are spending that time with someone else. And whoever that person is, that’s obviously the voice they will recognise.That’s why social media has dominated young people’s thinking and behaviour today. For many of them, it is perhaps the only space where they feel they are valued and relevant. It’s a tragedy but we only have ourselves to blame. It is not too late to change.Let this White Sunday be a day of reflection, evaluation and a change of attitudes where it is needed – not just for children but for all of us who play a role in raising and loving them.Happy White Sunday Samoa, God bless!Read Full Story
Newborns being abandoned: How do we stop it?
Poutoa Polutele , 41, TufuleleThe solution is within families. The parents should have a connection with their children and they should also teach their child what to do. For the parents, if the girl gets pregnant they should not beat the girl. They should understand and talk with her, because the girl thinks that her parents might beat her and then she makes the wrong decision. It goes back to good relations.Siloi Reopoamo, 53, Saleia Savai’iI think it's very important that parents communicate with their children everyday. One of the biggest issues today is cellphones because too many children spend time on it. For my family I talk to my kids every time and day, ever since my kids were young. That's my solution.Lina Leiataua, 64, Fa’atoiaI think the whole country should be involved in a programme to encourage girls to speak out when these things happen. We know we cannot stop so we have to be accomodating when it happens. There are also a lot of parents who cannot have children and I think there should be a programme where these children could be adopted. It's just an idea.Api Tuilo’a, 34, Safotu Savai’iOur country needs to repent and ask God for help. I cannot see any other solution unless God is involved. If girls and boys fear God, they wouldn't do what God wouldn't want them to do - and that includes abandoning babies born outside of marriage. We need to be a prayerful nation. Vaisuigi Malio, 52, Vavaai LotofagaThe issue is not new to Samoa. My solution involves families, the relationship between parents and daughter. The kids also need to understand where the parents stand on issues and why they don't want them to get pregnant. But if they do get pregnant, then the parents need to be patient and still work with their children. That's how we solve this.Le’ale’a Mataia, 39, FalefaGirls who don't have a relationship with their parents would do this. I think that's the first part of the problem. I also think mothers need to read their daughters body language and find out what is going on. Surely there must be signs so they should not be passive. I think we need to tackle this issue as a community rather than individuals.Read Full Story
China and developments at Mulifanua
Kevin Hart’s letter of 03 September complained about the Chinese being a likely buyer of Government’s shareholding in the Sheraton Samoa Resort at Mulifanua. Which raises the question; what is wrong with Chinese investors getting involved in tourism development in Samoa anyway especially when there isn’t much interest from elsewhere? Virtually every other country in the Pacific and the world including the US and Australia, China’s foremost critics have been enjoying the benefits of Chinese trade, investment, and tourism. So why not Samoa?Whether people like it or not, China will be a major player in the region, and it will only get worse with time for those who wish it otherwise. And in any case, one can’t do business with China as China’s critics do, and then seek to deny the Pacific Islands the same privilege by engaging in fearmongering about China’s intentions. Samoa’s deputy prime minister called this bahaviour recently, patronizing and offensive. It is also dishonest. One would have thought that with colonialism still fresh in people’s minds, China’s detractors might have tried some more subtle way to make their case about China being a threat to Island nations. After all, these are nations that have only recently won back their own sovereignty from countries that are accusing China, a victim of colonialism itself, of malevolent intent in the Pacific. Samoa’s prime minister made the point at the Pacific Island Forum that China is not an enemy of Samoa, which adheres to a “friend to all and enemy to none” approach to old and new comers alike to the region. The Pacific islands have legitimate economic needs and environmental interests that the former colonial powers in the Pacific have been unable to meet or in some cases totally ignored. Over the years, the Pacific Island nations have even been blamed for supposedly lagging in economic growth behind other parts of the world that receive similar levels of aid. But more recent work on the subject has confirmed what the Pacific Islands have known all along. And that is when you are small, highly fragmented and horribly isolated, your costs of attempting any form of economic activity are always going to be high no matter what you do. China’s willingness and ability to help bridge this aid gap is welcomed therefore. It also helps that China has a different approach in its relations with the tiny and insignificant Pacific Island states and peoples. And it happens it’s an approach that the Pacific peoples themselves understand all too well and appreciate. Its an approach that recognizes the inherent dignity of peoples irrespective of colour, money and level of development. The result is that in spite of the fear mongering about China’s supposedly hidden agenda even in the face of evidence to the contrary, the Pacific Islands have seen no reason to believe this crude and offensive propaganda. There appears to have been a notable increase lately in the number of visits by navy vessels and personnel from the US and Australia doing the usual public relations soft sell with various groups including school children. The visit on board these war machines and the helicopter rides for the children will have been the thrill of a lifetime for many. One suspects that we will be seeing more of these as the West sets out to contain the rise of Chinese influence in the region. The visits bring back to mind the colonial days of gun boat diplomacy in the Pacific when control of native populations was exercised mainly through the firepower of visiting warships when turned on native communities that failed to toe the line Samoa’s prime minister is reported to have said recently in relation to the stepped-up competition that Samoa’s main interest and focus of diplomacy is to raise standards of living and provide for its people’s needs. In the circumstances, public relations and making friends with young people will only go so far in winning influence especially in the face of China’s hard cash. Airy catch phrases such as Step Up, (Australia), Pacific Uplift, (UK), something about Family? (US), can easily backfire. A meeting between Chinese leaders and Pacific Island leaders being hosted by Samoa in October this year should be quite an event especially at this time. It will most likely see among other things the unveiling of some new aid and trade initiative by China. And as for Chinese interests possibly helping to bring more air services to Samoa, that too would be a welcome relief from the monopolistic practices of Air New Zealand, Virgin Airways and Fiji Airways, the three carriers that operate services in Samoa today. After being badly burnt in yet another one-sided partnership with an Australian carrier, the Samoan government did the right thing for Samoa in starting up Samoa Airways in spite of the risks and poor timing. When Polynesian Airlines started international services to New Zealand in the late 1970s, it did so mainly on the strength of Samoa’s own ethnic traffic between the two countries. The airline did well even then, until gross mismanagement grounded it with heavy losses. In spite of its inauspicious beginnings, Samoa Airways if properly managed and run, (by professionals preferably), has every chance of being the catalyst for Samoa to have the airline services it so badly needs. But it is helpful as government embarks on this to be reminded that we have been down this very road before. The lessons of history are there and must be learnt and heeded, if their repetition is to be avoided. Incidentally, as for a possible flooding of the To-Sua with tourists from China if direct charter flights were to start between China and Samoa, I have a suggestion. Make the climb down to the water even more challenging than it is now. That should encourage only the young and the brave to take the plunge. Afamasaga F ToleafoaLetavaRead Full Story