Our daily feature of ‘Village Voices’, has been an eye opener and not just for our readers.
Started by Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa, our reporters have been collecting four news stories a day for well over six months now from people living all around Upolu and from Savaii.
That’s over 200 glimpses into people’s lives we have shared with you, our readers.
The stories have given voice to the daily routines of men and women, the old and young who have not been drawn into the urban drift towards the bright lights of Apia.
Many of the stories reflect the strong ties of culture in the villages where they live, the routine and acceptance and enjoyment of living in a traditional system that has operated for years.
Yes, there have been some grumblings and moans about fa’alavelave and Village Council demands but overall no revolutionary plans to change things and it’s been mainly stoic acceptance of the way things are on the part of those interviewed.
The consensus seems to be that when the going gets tough, (moneywise) you make that call to family overseas.
And it seems to work.
Some of the interviews have been funny – one of our reporters received a marriage proposals, while others of those interviewed have revealed hard work and even entrepreneurial thinking is not just confined to Apia.
Just about everybody alludes to their love of the land and their gratitude for it. And while there have been a few who are sitting on that same land hoping for a hand out, they are few and far between.
Some of the stories have been very sad.
The fact that there are still so many people without the basics of adequate shelter and water let alone electricity show we still have a long way to go before we can truly be proud that our culture, religion and country, practices those values of fairness and equality of opportunity for all.
One of the common themes that come through the stories when reporters have been interviewing parents, has been their wish to provide a better life for their children. Their definition of ‘better’ may not be the same as those living in the urban areas but it does reflect the closeness of the family units and their desire to see their children move in some way from their own circumstances.
There have also been young people telling us they would like employment. Already there are several businesses which have contacted us to say they would be willing to give some of these young people a chance.
We’ll tell you those stories in due time.