Some pertinent questions for us

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

Well there goes another Christmas folks. With the presents opened, hangovers just about cured and all that glorious food finding its way to waste where it rightfully belongs, most of us are looking forward to the next big celebration.

The good news is that we don’t have to wait long.

With the nation indulging in the spoils of the festive season, four days from today, we will say goodbye to 2016. 

It’s been an eventful year for many of us. On Sunday, we will all have different reasons to celebrate. Some of us will look back with joy at some of the triumphs we achieved. Others will harbour regrets and hope that there is another way of correcting mistakes of the past.

Indeed, it has been a year where we’ve had a bit of everything.We’ve enjoyed some highs, suffered from some lows and then there are those issues that confront us every day.

We don’t want to sound like a scratched record but somehow every time the wet season arrives, it always reveals a couple of things.  And so with this Christmas being extremely a wet one, driving to the airport and back is not a pleasant experience. But that’s not the only road. Try getting to Falelatai and all those villages. It’s a struggle.

Then there is the sight of people ducking for cover since the rain really exposes the quality of homes they live in. 

You see these squalor like houses are found in most villages. Ironically many of them are right next to mansion-like church buildings. You cannot miss them, the contrast is so obvious no wonder foreigners to this country go away shaking their heads at the sizes of these church buildings.

Nothing wrong with these buildings of course but somewhere somehow one cannot stop thinking about the people who are funding them. They are the very people living in those squalor type fales who still have their fata ipus (kitchen sink) outdoors and the cookhouse as their dining table. 

Don’t get me wrong; many people in Samoa enjoy wonderful homes. We are not talking about them. We are talking about the ones who are being left behind. We see them everywhere we go in Samoa. And nothing exposes these shelters more than when the rain comes calling.

Which brings us to the issue of struggles and hardship. We’ve said this before and we will say it again, if you live in a squatter-like shelter, chances are you will also struggle to find food – and many other things in life.

What we want to say is that not everything that glitters is gold. When we peel away the top layers of life in paradise, you will find that some issues are getting worse and they demand we pay some serious attention to them as we set to say goodbye to another year.

We accept that many people deny the existence of poverty in Samoa. It’s understandable. 

A time like Christmas when there is an abundance of food definitely proves that wrong. But Christmas is the exception. After we splash out on Christmas, today many people return to the reality of life. And that for some is not a pretty one.

At the McDonald’s drive through yesterday, I counted at least seven young children hassling diners for some food and money. 

One of them – who couldn’t be more than 11 years old – was smoking away as if that was normal.

Which brings us to the question, if you look at the number of beggars on the streets and those street vendors, what does that tell you about Samoa today?

Take another look at those young faces who were out there in the rain yesterday? What do they tell us about progressive Samoa? Is this a sight we want to see?

Think about those young boys and girls who are on the streets every night, every day? 

Would they be there if they did not need to? Would their parents have been so ruthless to push them towards danger if they had a choice?

They are so poor and are stuck in a rot called poverty that they are forced to do the unthinkable. 

In a country where there is a growing reliance on money, if you don’t have a job to earn money, you’re bound to go hungry. Your children will end up starving. That’s the bottom line. And that’s why these people are on the streets. 

The point is that no one wants to think about these depressing issues at a time when we have so much to celebrate. But it is ignorant of us to ignore them, especially when they are so in our faces. What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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