Father's dilemma over daughter's fees

A 48-year-old man was collecting firewood for the kitchen on Saturday and the day was just like any other, though he has had a lot on his mind lately.

Mikaele Nonumalo is the father of four children and together with his wife are living the simplest of lives on the southwest coast of Upolu Island.

Their small house is a mash of old corrugated iron roofing and walls held together by wooden posts and reinforced with old canvas, to protect them from the fury of extreme weather.

Basic amenities such as water and electricity are lacking with Mr Nonumalo indicating that they rely on their relatives.

“We do not have any water supply, we fetch buckets of water from neighbouring relatives, and if it rains we use a bucket to store water and use it for our basic needs,” he said in an interview. “And we also do not have our own toilet; we all use the neighbours facility.

“I admit we do not have enough but we are trying our best to get by every day.”

Another shed next to their house is the kitchen where all the family's meals are cooked. 

But right now he is thankful for his plantation and vegetable garden, but he knows that the harvest is still a long way off, as he ponders how he will pay his daughter’s school fees.

“I am a strong believer that education is the key to success,” added Mr. Nonumalo. “If my daughter finishes school and ends up successful, she can help our family lessen some of the financial burdens, we may not have much but we are grateful for what we have.

“We must always thank God for all his blessings because we are alive, thanks for the gift of life.”

Mr. Nonumalo and his family recently moved from Savai’i and have settled on land belonging to his mother’s family.

“Every night, I pray for God’s help especially since my daughter will be attending Year 12 this year, but we do not have enough money to pay for her school fees.

“I was hoping that my vegetable garden would bear fruits before school starts, but it’s a bit slow because I do not have enough resources.”

Nevertheless a 30-minute walk to the family plantation further inland and away from their home, has become a daily chore for Mr. Nonumalo. 

“I am determined to develop my vegetable garden because I know it's good money but I have limited resources,” he added. “We have a taro plantation but that will take so many months before we harvest which is not ideal for survival.”

And while the struggling father has a son, who is currently working in Savai’i, the loss of another son continues to haunt him.

Nevertheless, his other son returns home every fortnight with financial assistance for the family

“My son is the only one employed in Savai’i, but he comes every two or three weeks with money. 

“I also lost one of my sons to an accident out in the sea when he went fishing.”

The family also contributes to the church tithing, besides budgeting for a bag of rice, cooking oil and flour.

 If you are willing to help the family of Mr. Nonumalo, please contact the number: 7513667.

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