- They both lead up to Christmas
- White Sunday falls on the second week of October
- 22 November is my favourite date, earmarks the first time I traveled overseas by myself when I was 9?12?
- MANGO/PINEAPPLE/PEOPLE SEASON!
|YUM!My favourite fruit|
|Guilt free, locally organically grown mangoes,had 3 of these|
While you salivate at the sight of these, I can tell you now they are the some of the best tasting mangoes in the world. Thailand's mangoes are great too but I'm still biased when it comes to locally grown, organic fruits of Samoa.
As I count my blessings for being alive, working at a job I love and being surrounded by the people who are close to my heart, I think of all the farmers who are toiling everyday so we can see these sights every year. I think of my papa working with his hands in the sun, rain, wind etc, doing what he loves-farming for Samoa. Last year the government tore down the oh so faithful and sturdy Fugalei market with no backup plan and so the farmers are left out in the sun and rain with no decent roofs over their heads. When I came home last year after a year of studies, my heart broke at the sight of our produce being sold on the side of the road, under tents, absorbing the dust and carbon monoxide from passing vehicles, taking a beating from the rain and they say it's the transportation that contributes to the lesser quality of our agricultural produce. Perhaps that is somewhat true but when your ripe pawpaw, mango, green head cabbage, pele leaves, tender, fragile tomatoes are left out in the sun/ rain too long, something miraculously natural happens to them. They dry, shrivel up looking like the hands of a 100 year old and their appearance changes dramatically from the morning when they get off the bus,truck,uilipaelo to when the buyers get out from their aircon offices and snicker at us (farmers). They say 'koa kaugaka kele ga mea lae maua i le makou fale' ("Those are so expensive, we have those in our backyard". Being the daughter of a true consistent farmer, I have heard hundreds of snide comments when they come to buy. Sometimes I smile politely and act the fool, sometimes I just remind them that if they were growing their food in the background then surely, there is no need to buy from the market?
|Farmers selling in the rain (photo from Samoana)|
That's alright, I have learned that no matter what you do or how hard you strive, Samoans ,our people will always find something to complain about. It is in our nature to expect the best. Even though our Fugalei market is non-existent, I applaud the endurance of our farmers (the backbone of our nation), they did not stop farming just because there is no building. The market is like the church. WE are the church because the church is not just a building, it is the people that make up the church. Similarly, WE are the market, the market is just a building, a place of trade but it's the people that gives it a heartbeat. The farmers did not just roll up their mats and stayed home, they came, they scraped holes in the ground, near the road, under trees, in front of the slum that is Fugalei, dig their heels in and say 'welcome, we are still here, we have not left'.
As we await another move from government to rectify what they did, the farmers now have other options. We have the newly established Chan Mow markets and Taufusi markets. They are businesses that were built by the hands of farmers. Chan Mow and Ah Liki did not become businessmen over night, they farmed just like the rest of us. Through hard work and patience they have become who they are today. They may be big businesses but they have not forgotten their roots. That is a great thing.
Now as I sit in my air con office and think of my papa, my sister Joanne selling our produce in front of Maryon, Lotopa in her tents and mum at the Farmer Joe car park tent, I think of the future of farming in Samoa. Where will we be in the next 20 years? We've been farming for more than 28 years now and this is where we have learned hard work, bargaining, sales and marketing. I wonder if we will still be enjoying our mango straight from the tree or out of a can. I hope our youth will pick up where our parents leave off, to continue farming and digging gold out of the stomach of the earth. Our people need a change of perspective; we see farmers as some of the poorest people out of the wealth triangle and should be left to those with no options. I can testify from my side that this is quite the opposite, if people understand that hard work will not go unanswered and that our most important resource is under our feet then they will never go hungry. We will not ask of our neighbours for their sugar, tauaga, salt or bus fare. We will be self-sufficient people.
In the true words of my papa, the only award winning farmer :(he received the award for being Asia-Pacific/Pacific model farmer and for outstanding achievements from FAO )"If you want to reap, first you must sow," he says.That's important to Ricky. Westerlund. This farmer, who is also a preacher, regards it as part of his mission to help his countrymen become free from malnutrition, disease and poverty. There are few limits to what a man can achieve when his spirit is strong.
"God wants us to live in abundance," he said when talking about his vision for the future of Samoa. "When we have abundance we are not at the mercy of others. When we have abundance we are free."