Mother says farming Samoa's answer to downturn
Opinions may differ. But for Mele Va'afuti, a 47-year-old mother from Iva in Savai'i, there is no profession or vocation that can match the satisfaction of farming the land.
While several thousand Samoans deal with the economic downturn brought by COVID-19, Mele says more locals should consider the country’s traditional occupation.
Working hard on one’s plantation and vegetable gardens and selling them to earn money, Mele, says is this nation’s quintessential past time.
"Life out here on the island is simple," she told the Samoa Observer.
"There is no point in mucking around and complaining about the high cost of living when there is work to do to help our families get by each day."
There are only four people in Mele's family.
She stays with her husband and two young sons at their house at Iva, and they depend on the land for income.
"We do not have jobs, but my hard-working husband owns and operates a big plantation, and I help him out a lot too,” she said.
"That is how we get money."
The mother-of-two sets up her stall on the side of the road and in front of their house every morning.
From the stall every morning, they sell taro, cucumbers, ta'amu, cabbages among other produce.
The stall, according to Mele, goes a long way to helping the family to meet its needs.
"We have been doing this for more than four years now. We work hard because we know the money we make goes towards taking care of my children and family,” she said.
"We enjoy it even though the sale is tough most of the time, but at least we can never go hungry as the land and sea always provide."
The drive to continue working hard, said Mele, is inspired by their children.
"As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We all struggle in trying to provide for them, but all is worth it at the end when we see that they are growing up healthy and happy,” she said.
"For us, that is the reason why we work hard and why we do what we do every day, with a smile."
But the high cost of living is another push factor that she cites.
"We see some people struggling because they depend too much on imported goods,” she said.
"But I am grateful to God for giving us rich natural resources and lands that provide for us. During difficult times, we can always count on the land and sea to provide for us."
To those struggling against the backdrop of the economic downturn she says "life is hard, but it is not impossible."
"You will never get anywhere and you will never be able to achieve something if you don't get up and work for it,” she said.
"You can do anything if you put your mind into it. We all have different talents and callings; but whatever it is that you were destined to do, hard work can surely help you achieve your goals.
"Every day is a gift, use it wisely to help others and especially your loved ones."