The struggles of fatherhood
It takes love to be a fully functioning father.
That is because the tasks and responsibilities that come with it require a lot of hard work.
The thought was echoed by Peneli Sau from the village of Le’auva’a when he was approached by the Village Voice yesterday.
He said being a father cannot be done in half measures.
“As parents, we all want our children to grow up to be responsible and good people,” he said.
The 59-year-old-father-and-grandfather, Peneli explained to the Village Voice his personal struggles raising eight children.
“The first challenge was taking up a wife after being a single man,” he explained. “I tell you, it’s not easy, especially when God blessed our family with eight kids.
“It is no secret that raising a family requires more than just walking straight into it and then you live happier ever after.”
He said this kind of attitude towards marriage, fatherhood and raising a family was a “no-no”.
“But you are required to prepare yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. To cut a long story short, eight young children to take care back in those days – it was really hard.
“I struggled a lot of the time, and you know the alteration from being a single man to going into marriage and then having children is - life-changing.
“Especially when you become the only person providing for the family’s basic needs, my children’s education, countless fa’alavelave and much more.”
That was twenty-five years ago but he has ceased to remember the difficult decisions they had to make to keep a proper family.
“My wife stayed home to look after the children while I worked.
He revealed to the Village Voice there were many times when the challenges of tireless days and nights exhausted him.
“Yet, the image of my children kept me going - my children were my first priority.
“Yes, I continued pushing myself to work because of them.
The struggles were so real that often he would find himself crying.
But, he kept his faith by telling himself that as long as he kept going he can accomplish just about anything.
“There were wonderful highs and wonderful lows – yes, one of many that I went through was the money that I got from my pay was not that much to take care of my family.
“That was the main reason I quit my job as a cashier at a Ministry to become a farmer,” said Peniueli.
“I knew if I continued on with that job, my children would be no longer in school and my family would starve to death.”
As a result of his switch in careers Peneli said that farming is a lifesaving form of income generation.
“This saved my family and provided for my children’s needs.
“After 25 years, I didn’t want to go back to work but become a farmer.
“That’s how my family survives up until today.
He said his children need to understand that life these days is getting harder and more difficult but they need to keep working.
Six of Peniueli’s children have their own jobs and the other two are still in school.
“As you can see today, I’m still a farmer, and this plantation is where life began.
He said it was this very property that he went down on his knees and worked with tears through it all to make sure that he was able to provide for his family.
“To be honest, I almost gave up on my children’s education because my pay didn’t stretch so far but I love my children very much.
“I’ve learnt a lot about myself and about family just from having my own children.
His message to his children is very simple.
“Do not be deceived by the calm of the morning.” (Aua le se’etia i le saumalu o le taeao)
“But they (children) need to open their eyes, life is getting harder and harder, if I cried and struggled for them to be successful in school all those years.
“That means they need to be strong themselves and do good in life so that they can survive together with their children, and their children’s children in the future.”