A sad reminder that not all is well in some corners of Samoa

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

As we move closer and closer towards Christmas and the New Year, it’s easy to get caught in the joyful mood of the moment that we forget not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy the luxuries the season brings.

Sometimes we take it for granted that everyone just revels in the mood of the season. We kind of think that because it’s a delightful time of the year we automatically assume everyone has it together and that they are having a jolly good time. 

The same goes for people enjoying end of year festivities like prizegivings, graduations, parties and the lot. We tend to think that all students are celebrating and rejoicing. In many cases, that is true. But not all the cases. There are tears of sadness among the celebrations and festivities.

The story and picture on page 3 of your newspaper yesterday with the headline “Young scavengers alarm” is an example of sadness we cannot ignore at this time of the year.

While many of our children are caught up in merry making and Christmas activities, some are not as fortunate. Up at the Tafaigata Landfill for instance, more and more young children are scavenging through the rubbish to find food and other items to help their families survive.

This is not a make up story. Photos and videos don’t lie. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what’s happening at Tafaigata everyday. We accept this is not the first time we have raised this issue.

But if more and more members of the public are expressing concerns about it, why should we not care?

“I visit that place (Tafaigata landfill) all the time to drop off my rubbish and I always see these young people walking around in gumboots looking for things to take home, some are as young as seven years old,” he said. “I read in the paper not long ago that the government is looking into the issue and that they are trying to do something about it but it seems to me that what they’re doing is not enough.”

Not enough? Umm… try nothing!

Now the concerned citizen wants something done to stop what is happening out there.

 “While I’m driving in, the children will scream out to bring my rubbish to where they are standing and dump it there, maybe they want first pick of the trash I bring in,” he said.

“There are those who block their faces because they are embarrassed, I can tell they do not want to be there and are forced by their family; but I guess they have no other options if their family is struggling.”

Now is the government listening?

Are they paying attention? Are these children not the faces of poverty and hardship we keep highlighting on the pages of this newspaper?

Today, let’s ask ourselves, how do we measure the success of a nation? How have the policies put in place by the government impacted on every day lives, especially that of those children scavenging at Tafa’igata?

If you are poor, what is the connection between the poverty you wallowing in and the decisions being made at the highest level? 

Are government leaders responsible for the growing number of children at the Tafaigata Landfill? What about children hawking goods on the streets? Do they have a role to play to get them off the streets? 

Yesterday’s story about the Tafa’igata scavengers is another sad reminder about the chilling reality for some of the poorest people in this country today.

While the existence of poverty, especially when it comes to food, will always be a debatable topic in Samoa, the fact that young children are scavenging at the dumpster is such a haunting truth that should make all leaders of this country ashamed.

We say this because as they drive around in their pimped–up expensive rides with the air-condition on full blast being paid for by taxpayers, someone should remind them that in Samoa today, there are kids scouring the rubbish for food and other basic needs reminding us all that poverty is alive and well in Samoa. 

Think about this for a second. 

How much better would life be in Samoa, if those millions of taxpayers money identified by the Controller and Chief Auditor, as well as the Officers of Parliament Committee report that had been abused, wasted and unaccounted for were put to better use?

Spare a thought for those children at Tafa’igata.

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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