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Elderly father seeks help for a better home for family

Thirteen months to seven years after Cyclones Evan and Gita, a 75-year-old man and his family are still reeling from the impact of the cyclones.

Mati Toeta from the village of Saanapu was amongst the hundreds of people in Samoa who were affected by the cyclones in December 2012 (Evan) and February 2018 (Gita), their house was destroyed during the two tropical storms. 

His family – comprising his wife, three children and grandchildren – were left with nothing except for whatever was left from their destroyed house, which they then used to rebuild their current home. 

Their inadequate living condition is what worries Mr. Toeta every day. 

“Our home is built from old materials. We suffered greatly during Cyclone Evan and Gita, which completely destroyed our house. We had no choice but to seek refuge elsewhere," he said to the Village Voice team. 

“After the cyclones we always used the same materials to rebuild but there is nothing we can do when we can’t afford new building resources. At times when we have visitors I sometimes feel ashamed that our home is not proper to host guests, as you can see it is very old.

“At the end of the day I only want my children especially grandchildren to live in a better and stable home so that they can feel safe and secured, but that is not possible because we do not have financial support to do this."

The elderly father said they have been living on their family’s land for more than 30 years.

“I wish that when my time comes and the Lord calls me, I want to depart peacefully with the knowledge that my kids are living in a better home," Mr. Toeta said. 

“Another struggle we face is water supply. Even though we have access to water, the struggle is that suppliers can choose whether to disconnect the supply based on our bill payment or when they are unhappy. 

“At the moment our water is supplied through Lefaga. If this village becomes unhappy for whatever reason they can disconnect our water."

He said Lefaga is not the only water supplier for their village. 

“In the beginning there was a disagreement when Lefaga village claimed that we should have our own water supply.

“We pay water bill depending on the amount we use, so at the moment I have to pay $470 because my bills were outstanding, but with the little money we have, we try to allocate it wisely.

“Our village had its own water supply before but now they are undergoing new changes and hopefully get it back running, but if our water is disconnected for more than a day we use rain water that we try to save, but it is never sufficient for our daily uses,” he added.

Mr. Toeta said water is a need for his family as he has a lot of people living under his roof. 

“We live off my pension or selling our natural produces like nonu fruits or coconuts.

“Our first priority in terms of allocating the money we receive is food supplies. We have so many family members especially my grandkids, I have to make sure that the kids have something to eat.

“The next priority is our bills like for water supply and then we have village and church commitments also.”

If you are willing to help Mr. Toeta's family, please contact the number 7595103.

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