Living alone and working on a large plantation may seem like a burden for many people, especially when they have reached the ripe old age of 69.
But not for Akenese Tuitea from the village of Tuana’i.
Ms. Tuitea told the Village Voice team yesterday that she lived alone at home because she had no immediate family.
Asked why she was out working hard at her age, she said that this is what she usually does every day. She maintains a large koko and banana plantation and loves every minute of it.
She also added that the money she earns from what she grows isn’t too bad and allows her to get by daily.
“There is no one else in my house; I am currently living alone,” she said.
“I don’t really mind living alone because I just live life every day and it leaves me a lot of time to work on my plantation.
“I actually have a really big plantation. It extends all the way to the back and I grow Samoan Koko as well as bananas. It’s a lot of work but it is also satisfying to me.
“When I harvest my koko, bananas and other crops and take it to the market, I am able to make $600 on that day. All I need to pay is $50 to my nephew to help transport it to the market but that’s small compared to what I make.”
Asked for the secret of all her strength, Ms. Tuitea simply said God. She also explains that living in Samoa is tough so you have to be tougher and work harder for what you want.
“I give credit every day to God,” she said.
“He is my one and only source of strength and he helps me so much whenever I need him. Life in Samoa is definitely getting expensive so I really need to work hard in order to survive.
“Nothing is cheap anymore. The Chinese stores may sell a few cheap items but things are still hard to afford for many people.
“But then again, if you do not work hard then you won’t eat.”
She then turned her gaze on the stereotypical view that old people should just relax at home and not work the fields.
Ms. Tuitea believes that the only way to keep your body from getting weak with age is to keep moving and doing hard work.
“It’s common for old people in Samoa to use their age as an excuse not to lift a finger to do anything,” she said.
“I don’t believe in such a lazy lifestyle. I may be getting old but if you just sit around every day, your body will become weak and you will end up being useless.
“That’s why I push myself to do these types of tasks. It keeps me strong and I see it as exercise. There is no room for laziness in my mind.
“Being on my own has been a hidden blessing.”
On the other hand, Ms. Tuitea explains that the only hardship she faces, along with other villagers in the area, is the condition of her village road.
“The roads in my area are horrible,” she said.
“It creates issues for people living in this area such as the lack of public transport. There are two busses that come through my area but there are times that they don’t even show up.
“I assume that they don’t want their tyres to get ruined. We would have to walk all the way to the nearby road to catch a bus and it’s a real inconvenience.
“Other than that, life is great for me. I am strong and happy.”