As Samoa gears up to celebrate White Sunday tomorrow, spare a thought for many families who are struggling to make ends meet.
The skyrocketing cost of living, coupled with rising food prices, means parents have to be extra careful with their spending – if they have money to spend at all.
Over the years, the day is usually celebrated by children donning expensive clothes and families gathering together for big feasts.
This has meant parents looking for loans to fund the habit.
An official at the S.N.P.F said they have been inundated with members seeking to borrow money for White Sunday.
“We’ve had long queues from Monday up until today,” the official said.
“Sadly, many of them were turned away as they had no entitlements. We tried to help as much as we can but there is only so much we can do.”
The S.N.P.F was not the only loan place packed with desperate parents.
Similar scenes were seen at the local banks as members of the public looked for some cash for the weekend.
And with many of them being rejected, the celebrations this weekend might be a little subdued.
The cost of goods, especially clothes, has not helped.
In Apia yesterday, a number of parents the Weekend Observer spoke to admitted they had discovered a significant increase in the cost of most White Sunday items compared with previous years.
Tuauta Tupa’i, a mother of four from Lepale, Fasito’o describes the challenges she faces in managing her budget now.
“I just can’t manage my budget now because of the high cost of living; honestly my husband is the only person who works to provide for the family.
“We have two children and it’s not that cheap but we’re still trying to cope with the high cost of living and try my best to buy whatever I can for my children.
A man from Lotofaga, Molesi Tufuga agreed.
Molesi said businesses around the town were struggling.
“I think many of our people turn to Chinese shops because of (low) prices.”
He said he could not afford to buy all that his children wanted.
“The main reason is the high cost of living, but what can we do, I’ll just try my best to make sure my children get everything they need for White Sunday.
“Several years ago, I could buy everything my children needed with just $100, now we are talking about $500 to get all my children’s clothes for White Sunday.”