Toetu Fuifatu from Tafua Taga Savai’i has every reason to hold his head up high - proud to be from Tafua.
He is one of the 30 young Samoa Recognised Seasonal Workers from his village who pooled together to contribute close to $200,000 to finance the construction of the new E.F.K.S church.
The total cost of the project was over $700,000.
And for Toetu he says that it’s not how much he contributed to the new church project while employed in New Zealand as a seasonal worker but the permanent recordings for life of his contribution in the E.F.K.S Tafua Church history books.
“Money was and will never be an issue. Paramount to me is that my family’s name, Fuifatu is in the official church records as a contributor to the church developments. And that is priceless,” said the 38-year old father of two.
“E pala maa ae le pala tala,” he said in Samoan. “That is my thinking when it comes to helping our church. Church Rev. Niulala Kupa is the brainchild behind the thinking to tap into the New Zealand’s Seasonal Workers initiative as a funding source for the new church. And his initiative had paid off.
“Aside from the new church, more than 90% of Tafua village are living in modernised brick houses.
“Many have vehicles and almost every family is investing in cattle farming,” said Rev. Kupa who has served the Tafua E.F.K.S Congregation for more than 30 years.
“Ten years ago, before Tafua became part of the R.S.E. movement, many families were struggling.
“Today, they are well off,” continued Rev. Kupa.
“The R.S.E. workers have changed their mindsets through their exposure in New Zealand which has opened their eyes that family and church first is most important.
“They are more aware on how to spend and invest their earnings and their attitude towards village unity and harmony has change dfor the betterment of Tafua.
“And it’s all credit to the governments of New Zealand and Samoa and most importantly Mr Apple company our sole employer in Aoteroa.
“Without R.S.E., without Mr Apple, and the Samoa and New Zealand Governments and most importantly without the endurance, patience and tolerance of the wives, children and the respective families of our R.S.E. workers, Tafua would not be where it is today.”
He echoes repeated public advices from Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi for Samoan R.S.E. to safeguard the seasonal employment incentive at all costs.
“Whatever you do while deployed in New Zealand, pray to our father for strength, guidance and to lead you not into temptations.
“With the Lord on your side, you can overcome temptations. Never forget that the future of your families, your children and above all the reputation of Samoa is in your hands,” preached Rev. Kupa adding that he is 110% with Prime Minister Tuilaepa to blacklist villagers whose workers are deported back to Samoa for violation conditions of their temporary employment.
“The R.S.E. scheme is bigger than one worker and one village. It is carries the hopes of thousands of Samoa families and its existence should never be comprised by the irresponsibility’s of a few hoodlums.”
And Toetu agrees;
“The power of prayers can do wonders.
“With two children and a young wife back home, temptation is always there.
“But prayers have always been my strength,” added Toetu whose spent a good four years of his life as a seasonal R.S.E. worker which has given him a new two bedroom home, a new car and savings to support his family while taking five for a couple of years to enjoy life with his young family.
Ironically, 30 R.S.E. workers from Tafua are back on the job, departing for New Zealand a couple of weeks ago, to continue the Tafua-Mr. Apple legacy.