Selepa Ahvon lives in a hut in Saoluafata with her four children and husband.
Their home is basically an open-plan house, with wooden posts and a roof made out of corrugated iron, and traditionally-weaved coconut leaves. It is not much of a structure, but it at least keeps the family warm and dry during rain and bad weather.
She was at home when Village Voice caught up with her and her family. And unsurprisingly, it was the challenges that her family including the children faced on a daily basis, which dominated the conversation.
While their life is already hard as it is, the lack of access to water would be a major challenge for her family, it it wasn’t for their generous neighbours.
Therefore, she struggled to fathom the rational of recent comments made by the Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, on how all Samoans should have access to water when there are costs involved.
“The Prime Minister is correct that Samoa is rich with water and in my village there is accessibility to water. But for my family we cannot afford to pay the Samoa Water Authority to connect our water supply.
“It is also true that we have families overseas that send us money. But not often and especially we do not depend on them for survival. In my family no one is employed because we depend on our crops and vegetables that we sell to earn a living.
“From the sale of our crops if we are lucky we earn $50 or $30 but that money is spent on buying powdered milk, diapers and other necessities for my five-month-old baby,” she told Village Voice.
Their accessibility to water also depends on the rain and it does not rain every day of the year, she added.
“We get our water from our kind neighbours and so our daily routine is to fill three to six buckets of water so we can use it daily. Water is necessity in life that has so many uses, we need water not only for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes. But most importantly I care for my new born child through regular bottles of powdered milk.”
Right now the family want a water tank so they can start storing water for their consumption, which over the long-term would resolve one of their major challenges.
The basic structure of their house also remains vulnerable to extreme weather condition, according to Selepa.
“Our home is also vulnerable to cyclones, last year Samoa was hit by Cyclone Gita and our home faced a lot of damages, the strong winds blew off some of the roof of our small traditional style house.
“As you can see the floor is covered with rocks and so it was completely affected with heavy raining.
“At the moment if it rains we use the tarpaulins but during cyclones our home is not safe to be living under during these times because it is vulnerable and so we seek shelter elsewhere with our neighbours,” she said. If you are willing to help Selepa’s family at Saoluafata, please contact the numbers 7240662/7754911.