Children’s safety tops Saupo’s list

By Adel Fruean 17 February 2019, 12:00AM

Saupo Atoni lives at Vaitele Fou with her two children, 15-20 minutes from the heart of Apia.  

But the close proximity of the 55-year-old’s home to the central business district in Samoa’s capital city, has meant nothing to her and her children for the last 19 years.

Her small home – with old wooden planks nailed all around – makes it look like a wooden cabin straight out of a 1960’s western movie. Taking a closer look, it was clear Saupo and her two children were living a basic lifestyle, while her husband was in another village looking after his sick mother.

And while they have their challenges, her concerns for their safety is at the top of the list, as people walk through their property to get to the main road.  

“We have lived here on our family land since 2000, my husband had to look after his sick mother but no one would stay and look after our house hence why we chose to stay.”

“Our land is used by trespassers to access the main road, meaning people that live just behind us and further inland use our land as a road to access the main road which is a big concern. It is a hassle to have people cross through our land towards the main road, especially at night time,” she said.

The weekends, especially Friday and Saturday nights, are a nightmare for her and her two children. Drunkards go around and disturb them. 

“We try our best to chase them away but mind you they are drunk and they are not easy to reason with. I wish we had a fence that can keep people from trespassing on our land, because I worry especially for my seven-year-old daughter.”

“The condition of our home is not safe, we do not have actual doors, we just use some wood and boards to use as doors, and surrounding it with fence wires because we do not have windows,” she added. 

Even though the family has access to water and electricity, water quality is a big challenge for them. 

“We have access to water and electricity – but with water it is a concern because sometimes the quality of the water is dirty and other times our water gets disconnected – for close to a week.”

“During times when our water is disconnected, we ask our neighbor that has a water tank if we can get some water. My son is the only one employed in our family, but he only gets paid $70 a week, and with that little amount we use it for various things,” she said. 

Mrs. Atoni said most of their expenses go towards supporting her seven-year-old daughter to send to school.

“My daughter was recently sick with a fever for two weeks and it was a great struggle. Food supply is one of our expenses, which we have to portion really carefully, because prices of foods are not cheap anymore.”

 “My normal chores include taking my child to school and coming home and cooking, cleaning and looking after our home,” she added.

The mother of two said that if her children have a safe home than she would be content.

“As a mother, I accept with all my heart that despite our struggles and hardships through poverty I will still stand by raising and looking after my kids. 

The time and bond that I share with my children as I see them growing up is more precious to me than anything else in this world. Life goes on, it does not go backwards so we must live for the future and if my children live in a safe and secure home and environment, I will have contentment in my heart.”

If you are willing to help the family of Saupo Atoni from Vaitele-fou please contact the number: 7722266.

By Adel Fruean 17 February 2019, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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