Tautua disability benefits plan wins Foundation's support
Not for profit organisation, the Survival Foundation, has applauded a policy promise by the Tautua Samoa Party to introduce benefits for people with a disability.
The foundation's founder, Tuilaepa Mary Gray, says the people of Samoa must 'smell the coffee' on disability policy and vote for change.
Tuilaepa said she is not usually politically affiliated but the promise by Tautua opened her eyes to a need that has been unmet.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer on Monday, Tuilaepa says it is time for benefits for the vulnerable to be introduced.
"I don't care who wins the election but as long as they raise the standard for the vulnerable people, that's all that matters to me," she said.
"Whatever buildings they make and luxurious hotels [are] built, we look for which party has the most [care for] the people at [its] heart.
"And with Tautua's proposal to put money into households who deal with the disabled to ensure they are cared for? Boy did I celebrate."
She also noted Tautua's goal of doubling the monthly pension to $300 a month saying such an increase would help those most in need.
"Imagine a household with a couple who are both pensioners, that's $600 a month in that household. That is more than enough," she said.
Tuilaepa says she speaks from experience in dealing with homeless people and people with a disability though Survival Samoa. And she claimed money is the root of a number of social problems surfacing in Samoa, ranging from suicide to baby dumping.
She said that families without financial resources face heavy burdens and that can lead to such problems.
"[Speaking] as an N.G.O. and as an individual, the people of Samoa need to wake up and see these issues, and see where the change can be made," Tuilaepa said.
"I believe if Tautua is promising this money, then the social issues experienced especially by our young people will be eliminated. I think it's all about money but no one's paying attention."
She also dismissed questions relating to how the Tautua Samoa party will be funding such promises saying: "When HRPP started there was no money."
Survival Samoa was established in 1993, according to Tuilaepa.
The core mission of Survival Samoa is taking in the homeless, ensuring they have somewhere to sleep, are fed and clothed and reconnected with families, where possible.
In most cases, according to Tuilaepa, Survival Samoa tries to put children through primary school and assist parents wanting to put children in schools but lack the resources.
The organisation is made up of nine individuals and the assistance provided is from members' own pockets, said Tuilaepa.
Last week, Tautua unveiled their policy agenda for the General Election next year.
Their list of priorities includes abolishing the church ministers' tax, increasing the minimum wage as well as creating a Savai'i branch of the National University of Samoa called the Tolotolo o le Tamauli Campus.
Tautua Samoa Party is led by Luagalau Afualo Dr. Salele