The contradictions are real. And so are the outcomes.
How can Samoa be so beautiful when you look in from the outside and yet it’s full of problems?
You see it’s impossible to deny that life in Samoa is better than most places - near and far.
Despite all the challenges, problems and our disagreements, we still enjoy a very peaceful existence, something many people find difficult to understand.
Whether we agree or not with some of the things happening around us, the fact is Samoa remains blissful, beautiful and we wake up to a very stable country everyday.
Indeed we open our eyes every morning to be greeted by the lush green of Samoa, our nostrils breathe the beautiful aroma of fresh flowers, our ears are awakened by the vibrant sounds of our surroundings every morning.
We are blessed with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets wherever you maybe and we are privileged to be able to enjoy everything most wonderful that comes with living in such a tropical paradise.
Most of us complain about the heat but it must be said it’s probably a lot better than waking up to subzero temperatures.
When it comes to our people and the challenges we go through, it’s undeniable that we are a mighty resilient lot.
That is; regardless of what challenges we face, we always do our best to appear unfazed by it, so we try to make the most of any sad situation.
The countless stories of ordinary Samoans in the Village Voice everyday making the best of life despite the heartbreaking stories of struggles, poverty and hardship speaks for itself.
When you look at some of these people and what they call a home, you would think that this is a third world country. It’s horrible and yet they remain so positive. What’s more, they say that as long as there is food on the table, they are happy with their lot.
You’ve got to take your hat off to these people.
Their positivity, optimism in the face of adversity and extremity is the stuff that motivates and inspires. How a mother can take of six children on an income from a vegetable garden is hard to imagine.
How parents are able to raise ten children purely on the proceeds from the plantation is almost unimaginable given today’s cost of living. How one working person can feed more than 10 mouths in a single household is certainly beyond me.
And yet it’s possible in Samoa. There are stories of people living like that every day on the pages of this newspaper. We are indeed resilient.
The question is for how long more.
The signs should alarm us all. None more concerning than the growing number of beggars and street vendors on the streets at all hours of the day and night. It doesn’t matter where we are. We could be sitting at a very flash restaurant eating the most exotic food and suddenly they pop up out of nowhere.
You could be walking down the streets and they will hassle you. You might be sitting in your car and they will knock on the window.
These people are the face of deteriorating poverty and hardship in paradise.
It’s ironic because for all the wonderful things Samoa has achieved – and we’ve achieved a lot – this unfortunately is the impression visitors to this country will take back with them.
So what is going on? Why do we say we are ahead of most countries in the world and yet these beggars and street vendors are constantly reminding us about how poor we have become as a country?
There has to be a balance. Yes we need to be positive and promote what’s beautiful about Samoa.
But we should acknowledge that there are real issues in paradise, which we believe should be at the forefront of our national conversation. It involves the sorting out of such serious problems as beggars on the streets, poverty, child labour, rape, incest, drugs, abuse of women and children, thefts, robberies, the deadly wave of non-communicable diseases and so forth.
A lot of people - including Prime Minister Tuilaepa - say poverty does not exist in Samoa. Yet, if you look at the number of beggars on the streets and those street vendors, would they be out there if there were no poverty?
The truth is simple enough. These people are so poor they are stuck in a rut called poverty. It’s a poverty of jobs, poverty of ways to earn money and poverty of opportunity that ultimately results in the poverty of your stomach.
The point is that we are a wonderful country with many wonderful people who have achieved magnificent things. Bravo.
But when we peel away the top layers of life in Samoa, you will find that these problems are getting worse and they demand that we pay serious attention to them with the idea of addressing them once and for all.
Have a fabulous Tuesday Samoa, God bless!