Woman farmer urges unemployed to work the land

With over a thousand people unemployed in the tourism industry, a mother of eight has urged everyone to go back to the land as a source of income and survival.

Mareta Vaeagi has been a farmer her whole life and she wants to encourage people who have lost jobs to join her.

“It has been passed down through generations that our blessings are found if we work the lands,” she said.

The 51-year-old from Saaga, Siumu added that she plays a mother and father’s role at home because her husband is sick.

“Due to having two roles, it has put great responsibilities on my shoulders because my family’s survival depends on me," she said.

“I sell brooms, mats, oils, coconuts and firewood infront of our house but during the weekdays, I sell cooked taro, luau (coconut cream wrapped with taro leaves) and other foods in town.”

Ms. Vaeagi added that a mother that cares for her family will not be lazy or gets tired easily.

“I believe that if you do not you will not be able to eat. With so many people unemployed they should go back to the lands and develop their plantations to support their families.

“For my daily routine, I get home around 3pm after selling my food which will sometimes earn me $120 a day. But I have already planned out how to prepare the cooking of the meals that I will sell the next day.

“So by 4pm, I have a 15-year-old son that assists me in doing chores such as gathering wood, taro, coconuts by the time we reach home it is dark.”

She said that there is no rest when they get home, “we have dinner with the family and after evening prayer.”

“After putting the children to bed I start peeling the taro skins off the taro and prepare for the early morning cooking and I usually finish around 12am.

“And even when I am lying in bed my mind does not want to sleep but then sleep helps give you the strength.

“So I wake up around 3am to start preparations for an umu (earth oven).”

She thanked God for the strength he has blessed her with because she does not feel tired or lazy.

“I am passionate and determined with what I do daily, the motivation comes from my family because they have to eat and I have three children to provide for and send to school.

“I would also like to acknowledge Samoa Victim Support Group through their Nofotane programme and the Government of Australia for funding a water tank and providing agricultural tools to help me earn a form of income to support my family.”

Australia gave financial assistance to support Nofotane women farmers and children at the Campus of Hope under the S.V.S.G.

A grant of $19,800 was given to the S.V.S.G. through the Direct Aid Programme (D.A.P.) funded by the Australian government.

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