Talking is okay but we’d prefer to see some results

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The good thing about Samoa is that over the years, it has slowly developed into a formidable venue for national and international gatherings of all sorts.

While Fiji remains the undisputed hub of meetings in the Pacific, Samoa seems to be making some headway into the lucrative market of conferences, workshops, talkfests and whatever else goes on during and after.

Which is a good thing for Samoa in as far as filling up our hotel rooms, tourism and all who benefit from the effect of this flow.

But what are the actual outcomes? What is actually achieved? You see there has to be a method in thy madness in the way some things are today.

How else can we explain meetings after meetings, consultations after consultations, framework of this and that and those countless workshops we see and hear about on the news every day.

We’re not singling out the handling of any particular issue here. 

And it doesn’t just happen in Samoa. It happens all over the world believe it or not. There are people who have made a pretty decent living from going from one meeting to another.

Some of them literally transit in their home countries so that they are always on the go. 

It could be any issue, social, economic and others and you will observe this trend. 

But sometimes, we need to step back and ask some hard questions about what is actually achieved, tangible outcomes and assess whether people’s lives are better after them.

In Samoa today, there is no doubt that there are many great intentions when it comes to the issues we face.

It involves solving our pestering problems, improving our lot in life and of course the endless pursuit for satisfaction and happiness.

But it’s hard to ignore the fact that the stronger we push in our haste to eliminate some of our problems, the more persistent they become. So what are we doing wrong? 

Why is it that after a gazillion meetings, workshops, conventions, seminars or whatever you prefer to call them, nothing seems to change? 

Why have things become considerably bad despite so much effort to change them for the better? 

Where are we missing it? What are we not doing right?

There are many answers. 

We’ve said this before and we want to highlight this again. From where we stand, we see that life and its challenges involve real people with real problems. Which means the solutions we are looking for should also be real and tangible, not the feel-good ones that allow us to tick the boxes at the workshops and set up the next meeting.

Don’t get us wrong. There is nothing wrong with meetings when there are clear, concise and hard evidence that they are producing results. Besides, we should not deride the value of talking and discussing the challenges we face today. It’s a lot better than not talking about them I tell you.

But the ultimate goal should always be to translate what is being discussed at these meetings, workshops and what have you into action so that it will have an impact on ordinary people whose lives are affected by it. 

If these things don’t make a difference at the grassroots level, what’s the point? Who cares about what fancy name you give to a workshop and how flash the venue it is held at?

Which brings us to Samoa. We find that a lot of the time the talk about issues beats around the bush too much. We come up with all this fancy talk to try and hide the reality of our problems when they are so glaringly obvious to see.

Take the issue of poverty and hardship for instance. 

What are we doing about poverty here? What is the government doing for the 27 per cent of people identified by the I.L.O. on the front page of the paper you are reading today?

Hardship is real in Samoa. Just as poverty is. Look at the growing number of beggars and young children resorting to a life of petty crime and street menacing? Are those not signs of poverty?

What about the issue of family, domestic and violence in general? Are these statistics not getting worse by the day? What are we actually doing about them apart from just talking and pretending we care?

What about job creation? Are there enough jobs in Samoa? If the answer is no, what is the government doing to create more jobs?

These questions are not new. And this piece is certainly not the first time we have highlighted these issues. They have been around for ages and yet they appear to be deteriorating every year.

But here is the truth folks, there has been no shortage of talking about them too. Every week, every month there are meetings after meetings to plan more talkfests. And yet real people with real problems continue to suffer. We see them every day. 

Today let’s be reminded once again that poverty, hardships and corruption are hurting our people, resulting in many of our social problems – including violence and other petty crimes. Those women and children suffering from domestic violence is a direct consequence of society’s failure to address poverty and hardship. 

We can have this and that commemoration but at the end of the day those women will have to go home to their banged up husbands who are stressed out from earning lousy money for all their work. This is the real issue.

And we believe the government should take the lead to address them. 

Start by holding certain public officials to account for the millions of public monies they have abused and misused through corrupt ways and collusion.

The truth is that many people are struggling to put food on the table because of the lack of income. What is happening now is the gap between the rich and poor in Samoa is getting wider and there is a deep sense of frustration boiling beneath the surface. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

No amount of talkfests will solve this unless we start showing love by saving some money from all those expensive meetings to give to the people who need them the most.  

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a great Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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