Lockdown impacts remittances, family suffers

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown has impacted remittances for families in Samoa.

Among them is the family of Luisa Seumalu, who told the Samoa Observer that it has been five weeks since they last received money from her husband who is in Australia for the Seasonal Workers programme. 

Mrs. Seumalu's husband works in the meat processing industry and has been in Australia for four months.  The 36-year-old mother of six said their family depends entirely on her husband for income.

“His contract is for three years and depending on his leaves, he can come probably next year to visit his family especially the children," she said.

“This is the first time he has been employed as a seasonal worker. With no income coming from Australia it has led to financial difficulties in terms of caring for the children.”

The plantation has become their only source of food for survival but she says they can't wait until things return to normal. 

“The money received is often used for children’s food and especially caring for our elderly mother and extended members of the family.”

She added that her normal tasks include preparing the children’s meals and doing chores at home.

“There is no use to be busy with other things when the children are hungry, as a parent that would be a downfall on my part.

“I am not blaming anyone for us not receiving money, I understand the situation in Australia is very bad and people have lost lives to the coronavirus and I also want the father of my children to be okay.

“My husband and I talk every night and he has shared him and other Samoan workers are all doing well.”

Her husband and other Samoans are being extra careful because Australia is on lockdown.

“The only time for traveling is to purchase food necessities or essential items.

“Before my husband left the country, we had an elei printing small business at our own home but we have closed this service for four months now.

“But usually until someone wants to do orders for printing materials but that is hard with the bans being implemented in our country for public gatherings.”

Mrs. Seumalu’s family is one of more than nine families that received assistance through food supplies from Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) and its donors after she called its Helpline.

“I am very thankful that they S.V.S.G. have helped our family during these difficult times we are facing.”

The S.V.S.G. also partnered with the United Nations Children's Fund (U.N.I.C.E.F.) and United Nations Development Programme’s (U.N.D.P.) Spotlight Initiative to help care for children housed in the Campus of Hope and new cases being presented.

The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour (M.C.I.L.), Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell previously relayed a message of support to all Samoan workers overseas amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Lautafi acknowledged God’s blessing upon all living and working abroad to support their families.

“We here at home in Samoa, acknowledge your sacrifices to support your families.

“Our church leaders, government, families and village communities continue to pray for you all. You are in our thoughts during this time.

“You have left Samoa for the benefit of your families, villages, churches and government and we thank you for your courage.” 

The Minister added that the safety of all its workers overseas and that of others is paramount.

“We do know that in the countries where you work there may be restrictions as a result of COVID-19 that may impact you physically being able to go and send money home.

“And not only your safety but the safety of your families here too, in physically going to collect your remittances.”


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