Father and son dream of a water tank

Life is tough for 46-year-old Leafa Alapati who lives in a small house in Malie-uta.

He is not married and has dedicated his life to looking after his 70-year-old father.

One look at his house and you will know that life is not easy, the property measures less than 4 square meters in size and has a rusty iron roof, and walls made out of old plastic canvass. There were plastic water containers lined up in front of the house and a taro and banana garden.

But the deteriorating condition of his house is not his main concern, after 26 years of living off the land to support himself and his father, it is a water tank that they continue to yearn for.

“My main concern and daily hardship that I face each day is not having access to water, it has been over 26 years since my family occupied this land and there was no water supply.

“I am very saddened by this because I need water so it will be easier to care for my father’s well-being. We survive by using plastic bottles to fill up with water and for one week we use 20 bottles of water to allocate for various uses like cooking and drinking," he told Sunday Samoan. 

Leafa said their dire situation compelled him to approach the Samoa Water Authority (SWA), but they cannot qualify for water access under the SWA policy, as there should be over four families living on a portion of land to qualify for the service.

“It is true what others say that water is a necessity on life and no one human can survive without it – I sought help from the Samoa Water Authority to connect our water supply but I was told that there has to be more than four families."

Leafa said more than four families live in their neighbourhood, but they still cannot have access to water supply – even if he lives on the land for a hundred years. 

“Samoa is going to be in the dry season and that is also another struggle, because when there will be less rainfall it makes it harder for us to store water, that we can easily get from the rain.

“I dedicated my life to taking care of my father, it’s easier since I am not married and have no children. 

“My daily chores include preparing three meals a day for him, I try my best to use with whatever we can get to prepare a meal but we are not picky eaters so that makes it easier,” he added.

He also acknowledged God for the gift of life and the blessings of abundance in his crops and his father's longevity. 

“We depend on our plantation for both food supply and income; we sell our bananas and taro in the market when we can. We stay in our small shack so we can look after our plantation but during the weekends for church we go back to family home located on the main road and further away from the plantation. It is very significant that we give back the glory and thanksgiving to God for both his blessings and the gift of life." 

Despite his father being 70 years of age, Leafa said the old man continues to tend to their crops. 

“I always advise that my father should rest but he always gives me lectures saying that I should not be alone and that he wants to stay and help because he loves me.

“This is why it breaks my heart that I cannot provide better care for him, of us always struggling to find water and if we had a water tank that would make everything easier for us. At times when people come to visit we feel so ashamed because there is no water,” he added. 

While water accessibility – through the donation of a water tank – is a priority for the family, the Malie-uta villager said access to electricity is another challenge but not a priority for now. 

“If I were to seek assistance with the connection of our power supply I am very sure that there are so many processes we must go through and I also believe that in Samoa it’s not about what you do, it’s about who you know.

“We don’t want to leave our land unattended because it’s not that we are greedy, no, it’s just that everything is okay when you ask for permission but there are some people that take without asking the owner’s consent.

“My father is my role model, he is both hardworking and committed to the works of the land, which is why I try my best to care for him," he said. 

If you are willing to help Leafa Alapati at Malie-uta get a water tank please contact the number mobile number 7247422. 

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