Ufiata Fereti, a 44-year-old mother of eight, dreams of having a “real home.”
For 19 years, her family has had to share a couple of shacks at Aleisa. Speaking to the Village Voice team, she said they use three shacks.
Eight people sleep in one shack, while she sleeps in the kitchen with her four children.
Her husband sleeps with their other sons in the shack behind the kitchen.
“My sister and her four children share the shack with my daughter and her husband. A cloth is used in the middle to separate the two,” she said.
“My house is so small. I have to sleep in the kitchen with my other children and since we don’t have any mattresses we sleep on boxes.
“We really need help. Despite how many times we try to save money so we would be able to rebuild a new house, we always fail.”
Unemployment is an added struggle.
They sell their taro with coconut cream and the profit they make is not enough to provide for 14 people.
“I prefer selling my goods at the market, in that way it could be easily sold.
“We only make $40 from what I sell every day and it is never enough.”
Mrs. Fereti explained: “Both my husband and I are unemployed, but even back then when he was working; we still weren’t able to save any money.
“He has stopped working due to some health issues.
“The reason we have never succeeded is because there is always something that we need to spend money on such as food and the kid’s school fees.
“I have daughters and they need to have a proper home that they could change their clothes in and certain things like that.
“There are so many of us living together. We don’t have any other option,” she said.
For Mrs. Fereti, their living condition is an unhealthy sight, especially when she is expecting her grandchild to be born soon.
“Every time the house leaks, we try to look for solutions to prevent the house from getting wet. There are certain times when the weather becomes terrible and we can’t stop the water from entering the house.
“All of our belongings will end up becoming wet.”
The electrical wiring in their house has been poorly done and she fears for the safety of her children.
“We use clothes and certain things like that to fasten the light in our kitchen properly.
“The light is always hanging on the roof, but it is not high up since our kitchen is really small.”
They use a pit toilet and this is also a health concern for the mother.
Mrs. Fereti adds the waste water is drained straight to the ground where they wash their dishes because they don’t have a sink with proper pipe connections.
She says they have a water tank, but it also cost them money to fill it.
“We need to pay $200 to have our water tank filled, but when we use the water, it does not last us a month because there’s so many of us.”