Seasonal workers in Nangiloc giving hope

By The Editorial Board 22 November 2022, 6:00AM

It is stories like this that make you feel warm in the heart as a Samoan, reading of the positive impact that children of Samoa are making in communities, in other parts of the world.

We are talking about an article (Seasonal workers help protect Australian town) in the Monday 21 November 2022 edition of the Samoa Observer that reported on how seasonal workers currently working in rural Victoria, Australia helped residents of a town protect it against the threat posed by flood water.

About 70 Samoan seasonal workers, who were in the area to pick fruit, stepped forward to assist the residents of Nangiloc which sit on the south bank of Murray River and is threatened by rising flood water.

"Always we want to come and help the community," Junior Tanuvasa said. 

Mr Tanuvasa is a team leader with Labour hire company Plant Grow Pick (PGP), who helps oversee the seasonal workers, who went to Australia to work on Costa Group's table grape and citrus properties in Nangiloc and nearby Colignan.

According to the article, at the end of a day's work of putting in place sandbags to protect against flood waters, the Samoans link arms and start singing with the gesture immediately "taken the town by storm."

"Always we give thanks to God, because God did give us the strength that will do the job and help people," Mr Tanuvasa said.

The sandbags are being laid around telecommunications infrastructure in Nangiloc to ensure communication services are maintained in the coming weeks.

Costa Group's table grape manager, Charlie Shaw, has helped coordinate the sandbagging effort.

He said the team was putting around 45 cubic metres of sand into bags each day.

"When they aren't working, the boys from PGP generally go down to the football oval to play a bit of soccer," he said.

“There has been a request for them [Samoans] to come in and help out over the next couple of days to do some more sandbagging down at the local ag supply store.”

Talk about being ambassadors of the country and practising ‘tautua’ (service) as part of their honouring of the fa’a Samoa (Samoan way) through their assistance to the rural town.

Just like every other Samoan, we are proud of the effort that the 70 seasonal workers have put into helping Nangiloc residents protect their community from the threat posed by flooding. You continue to fly Samoa’s flag high, malo lava le galue.

We are not surprised too that the singing by our seasonal workers, at the end of a hard day’s work protecting the town, has "taken the town by storm". Singing while hard at work or after a hard day’s work comes naturally, not only for Samoans but Pacific islanders generally, who all have a singing culture and use it as a form of self expression of good tidings or even grief or just to thank God for the blessings of life.

How can we forget the singing by around 200 seasonal workers from Samoa in July last year while in quarantine in a hotel in Tasmania? Their singing was captured on video and went viral online, logging over 2 million views on Facebook.

Obviously, it is in our nature as adherents of the fa’a Samoa to bless other people’s lives with our good deeds, and that is exactly what these 70 seasonal workers did when they turned up at Nangiloc.

And many more could follow, to become ambassadors of Samoa while working in Australia and New Zealand’s agricultural or horticultural industries, if given the opportunity.

Therefore, we hope the review that the Samoa Government has extended its deadline for will be completed soon so the country can have a system that protects the country’s local labour force, while giving the opportunity to unemployed individuals in the community to take up seasonal work in either Australia or New Zealand.

These are challenging times and while families in Samoa appreciate every single tala that gets sent from their loved ones working abroad, we are sure our Kiwi and Aussie friends would also welcome seasonal workers' gifts of service, as well as their sweet melodious singing to remind them that there’s always hope and a better tomorrow.

By The Editorial Board 22 November 2022, 6:00AM
Samoa Observer

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