New village van brings Christmas feeling
The village of Fasito'o-tai has welcomed the donation of a new Toyota Hiace van with the mayor saying he was elated that the children and families would be the main beneficiaries.
Fasito'o-tai Mayor, Tagoilea'ega Lumafu Levi, told the Samoa Observer that the donation of the van is timely as it will assist with the transportation of students and families from their homes to school.
He said with Christmas around the corner, the donation of the van, and the village’s banished residents returning home, there was a festive season feeling in the air.
"Today has brought different feelings really," said Tagoilea'ega. "In the spirit of Christ's birth, we've reconciled with the lost children of Fasito'o-Tai and we've got to welcome this brand new van vehicle which will serve the students and families of Fasitoo-Tai.
"This project is for the children. The goal is for the students to have a way of transportation from their homes which are located far from the school building to school.
"We continued to receive reports from the teachers that students have been missing out from school a lot, especially those whose homes are located way up at the end of the road.”
Tagoilea'ega said the Ali'i ma Faipule (village council) had concerns about the parents and their children as their attendance in class this year was often affected by the bad weather.
"We feel bad for some parents and especially for the children who had to walk from their homes to school under the hot sun and on the dirty dusty road and walk back up.
"On some days, they get soaked in the rain during severe weather so it has been difficult for both parents and the students.
“Our children are the future of tomorrow and we want these students to build a brighter future for Fasitoo-Tai hence why we opted to make this initiative a dream come true and it did starting today.”
Ultimately, the village had to find a solution to address the issue, according to the village mayor.
"So it's really a way for us to respond to these issues, because the fact is some students who stopped going to school were because of these problems, and are now back in school ever since the three chiefs started transporting them to school and when they heard about the initiative of a new vehicle."
When the village council began to look around for a solution to the village’s transport challenges, village chief Afamasaga Pou Onesemo stepped forward and donated his new van to the village.
While another village chief Vaa Fusuaga Logi, assisted with the branding of the donated vehicle and painted the name "Fasitoo-Tai" on it.
The new van will assist students with students with transportation to and from school free of charge, the mayor confirmed. It will also assist families who wish to use it but for a fee.
Prior to the arrival of a new van, three village chiefs stepped in to assist the students with transport. They included Afamasaga Faamata, Afamasaga Falepule and Tole'afoa Pili Afamasaga.
Afamasaga Mautofu and Afamasaga Taimane assisted with petrol allowance for the three vehicles that were used.
Apart from the arrival of the new village-owned van, the residents also welcomed back 10 residents, some of them former prisoners who were allowed to return to the village. Over 200 families reside in Fasitoo-tai.