“Life here is very easy,” Alofa Taeoalii, aged sixty, of Lepea, told Village Voice, yesterday.
“We have a plantation at the back which helps us a lot,” she explained. “We also have family overseas who send money when it’s really needed.”
But then there’s a problem.
And what is that problem?
“It’s the kids’ schooling,” she said. “The only difficult part in our life is having my kids walk long distances in the sun to get to school.”
She said: “Since the Tsunami, everything has been moved far in land so everyone has to do a lot of extra walking, I feel sorry for all the kids.”
She added: “Being a mother of nine children, I’ve learned the art of being self-sufficient, but I prefer the peaceful life in the village above all else.”
Alofa sees herself as a strong woman who knows that laziness will not benefit her and her family.
“You know,” she said, “some kids have shoes and others don’t, Some have umbrellas and other don’t.
“That’s the only difficult part of our life here,” she said.“Especially when it comes to food.
“We just boil some taro and tea then that’s the food for the day. For those living in the town and other areas, if they don’t have something fancy to eat, then they look at their neighbour’s fancy food and complain.”
“If we have a bit of money then we buy some tinned fish to go with our taro, and then that’s it; we’re grateful.”
One of the things Alofa is grateful for is a nearby college for all the children of the village.
“In the past my children used to school Apia and they stayed with my family there,” she says.
“But now we have a college here in the villages and a lot of us parents prefer to send our kids there.”
“It beats having them in town schools where all they do is fight. At least we can keep an eye on our children. They just walk to school and then they walk back.”
“I reckon life in town is too complicated. If you don’t have money for transport or food then you suffer, but over here the kids sometimes go to school with money and if they don’t then they will always be welcome at home with a nice meal.”
“That’s why I refuse to move away from here.
For many people, money is one of the most important things in life but not for Alofa. The free life accessible to every Samoan is what brings peace to her and her family.”
She is also confident that there is no poverty in Samoa.
“There is nothing to worry about out here,” she says.
“I don’t understand how any Samoan can live in poverty; it’s their own fault if they do. There are so many different opportunities for people in Samoa.”
“You can have cows, chickens and pigs; there’s nothing difficult about that. People come and buy my chickens for $10 each and that’s enough money for my sugar. A size two pig will get me an easy $100.
“If you are lazy to grow anything then you can even collect coconuts and sell them to families who want it; you don’t even have to go to town to sell those coconuts, there will always be people around here who will buy them.”
“There are so many money-making methods. The only time you need a lot of money is when there are funerals or other village activities. That’s the only time I ask my children overseas for help.”
“Even when it comes to church activities then I ask my children for money; but we in Samoa can always eat for free.”
“There are times I’ll ask my neighbors for a cup of rice because my children love eating rice but other than that, the land will always provide.”
She also supports the Prime Minister’s comments against those who complain and do nothing for themselves.
“The Prime Minister always tells us that we should never complain about not having enough,” she says.
“He tells us that we are given arms and legs; the only reason you are poor is because you won’t use them. Many people don’t like to sweat; even if you don’t want to work the land, we have the ocean.”
“How can people complain when I eat fish that is worth $30? There is no poverty in Samoa.”
“The funny thing is, people complain about not having enough money but they always go to the Bingo house. I love going to the Bingo but I know how to manage my money.”
“I always tell my family that going to the Bingo is way better than smoking and drinking because I can get lucky sometimes. If you smoke and smoke then you won’t get anything out of it.”
But what pushes such a strong lady to do what she does? “The one lesson I always tell my children is that if you don’t work hard then you won’t get anything,” she says.
“That’s what I go on every day, I tell myself that my family will suffer if I don’t sweat and that motivates me to push harder.”
“But many people are not like that. They just talk all day and sleep If you look at my son over there he is working on a fine mat and once that’s done then we can sell it for a few thousand dollars.”
And in the end, there is nothing better than the village life for Alofa.
“If life wasn’t this peaceful and great out here then I would have run away to Apia a long time ago,” she says.
“I am from Letogo but there is not anywhere I’d rather be than out here.”