Family's sole Christmas wish: a new home
As Samoa prepares to celebrate Christmas and a festive season marked by the exchange of gifts, a family of 13 from Fusi have only one thing on their Christmas wish-list: a home that can withstand rain and has access to water supply.
The family currently sleeps on a bed of rocks covered by mats.
One member of the family, Serafina Samuelu, was trying to put her two-month-old child to bed when the Village Voice team encountered her.
The home of Ms. Samuelu is made of iron roofing, with a floor composed of rocks covered with mats and surrounded by wood.
The home is located on the southwest coast of Upolu and is about 30 minutes drive from the centre of Apia.
“Our main struggle is accessibility to water supply,” she said.
The mother-of-two added that their family has lived without any water supply for more than ten years.
“We survive on two buckets of water a day which we have to fetch from a spring far from our home," she said.
“There are seven children that require food daily not forgetting our elderly parents, but we cannot prepare any food without water.
“It is more of a struggle because I have two infants at the age of 13-month-old and a two-month-old who require water either for bathing or food.”
She also said that there are two couples including herself and they both have children which only compounds their desperate need for food and water.
“My husband is unemployed but my brother-in-law is the only source of income for our family and despite being employed his salary cannot afford all the needs within our family," she said.
“It would be a great help if we had a water tank to store all the water so we don’t have to travel so far to fetch water daily.
“The water supply which our village uses is from our own water source which means it’s our own village’s water scheme.”
Ms. Samuelu added that the advantage of living away from town is that their family remained out of reach of the measles epidemic.
“We are fortunate that no one is our family was infected with the measles, as you can see there are so many young children and it would be great loss if something were to happen to any of them," she said.
“Our home is another concern because it is not safe, there is a concern of hygiene, because the rocks are associated with dirt but our only choice is to cover it with the mats available but that can only do so little.
“The scariest time is when it rains, not only does the rain get inside the house which is why we really need tarpaulins but it is a time when centipedes tend to be found crawling inside the house”
"Sadly, some of the children [are] bitten by centipedes during rainy days," she said.
“As Christmas draws near, due to our financial situation [means] we cannot afford gifts and presents for the children or even a big feast; all we hope for is new home and water which are necessities in life.”