Family struggles with high cost of living

The high cost of living in Samoa is making it difficult for a 51-year-old man and his family from Saaga, Siumu, to survive.

Ropati Sagato, his wife and their three children live in a traditionally-built Samoan house with a roof made out of coconut leaves, wooden posts and a floor laden with rocks.

They survive on produce such as taro, coconut and cocoa grown in their plantation but even that is not enough. Formal employment will help but for now both the husband and the wife are unemployed. 

Mr. Sagato said most revenue generated from their crop sales goes to the children’s education, which leaves very little for home expenses. 

“There is no one employed in our family, we try and sell our crops like taro, cocoa, and coconuts to get some kind of money,” he said. “We may sell our crops but there are times when there is no sale or no buyers but our family are in great need of money. It is times like these that you wish there was a stable job to guarantee access to finance. 

Despite their challenges, Mr. Sagato believes strongly in investing in his children’s education.

“The money we get is usually spent on the children’s education; I believe that education is the key to a better life,” he said. “We also have allocated some money for church and village commitments, but during family commitments such as funerals, we seek help from relatives overseas.”

With the country now in the cyclone season, the family fears for their home and its vulnerability, should a storm hit Samoa. 

“My fear is that Samoa has just entered the cyclone season and we only have prayers that we do not face any cyclones,” he said. “It is because the previous Cyclone Evan in 2012 destroyed our house but we rebuilt it with whatever materials we could get our hands on.”

But life goes on for the family despite the various hurdles they face, and they continue to be thankful for being part of a village that has its own water scheme. 

“There are things that we are grateful for having access to water and electricity which lessens the burden. We are very fortunate that our village has its own water scheme that gives each family with water.”

The land, which they built their house on, also belongs to the family of Mr. Sagato’s wife Litea.

“We are thankful to our forefathers who left us with a land to live on and raise a family. Despite having to face financial struggles, our family tries its best to work together in order to lessen the load of chores,” she said. 

“I am in charge of laundry, preparing meals, looking after the children. But also there are times I assist my husband with gathering cocoa so we can sell for $5.00 to get some extra money.”

If you are willing to help the family of Mr. and Mrs. Sagato please contact the number 7651304.

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