Memory of tragedy outweighs elderly father's struggles

An elderly father scrimps and saves to raise a family on the fruits of his plantation inside the most modest of houses - but no matter how tough life gets, he will always have feelings of gratitude.

Limatasi Masala was tending to his plantation when the Samoa Observer visited his home on Saturday morning.

 The elderly father said that no one in his family is employed.

“Our family depends entirely on the land and sea; my children go out fishing once or twice a week while I tend to our taro and banana plantation,” he said. 

“The only disadvantage of a taro plantation is that you have to wait for around six months to harvest that’s why we depend on our vegetable garden weekly which fetches around $30 or $50.

“We have electricity and water but our living conditions are unstable. As you can see, our home is built like a traditional Samoan house that is made of tree trunks, a leaking roof made of coconut leaves.”

But nothing compares to the challenges of the 8.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that shook Upolu’s south coast eleven years ago. 

Surviving that has left Mr. Masala permanently grateful. 

The tsunami claimed 140 lives. 

The father-of-five was one of its survivors. He woke up on that fateful day in 2009 about 5am and walked inland to gather some food supplies from their plantation. 

While Mr. Masala was collecting taro, he felt a strong earthquake, he then quickly called his children to evacuate from their home.

“If I did not wake up early, both I and the lives of my family members would have been lost to the tsunami,” he said.

The 69-year-old said that due to the substantial damages and lives lost on that day, he decided to move inland away from the coastal areas.

“I can still remember that day; the destruction of so many homes but the saddest scene was the many lives that were lost,” he said. 

“The hospital was packed with those injured and especially the bodies of the deceased.

“It was an unforgettable and tragic day; it was both a shock and disheartening.”

Mr. Masala also thanked the Government, especially the Prime Minister, for building a main road that allows many families easy access to their land. 

“Before there was no road that we can access our lands but now that a road was built, we decided to move inland from a fear of what happened years ago,” he said. 

He is also grateful for family support:

“My son in New Zealand also helps out when we have absolutely no money, I am grateful for him always.”

If you are willing to help the family of Mr. Mosala please contact the number: 7588098.


Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?