Attitude in Samoa - Part 1

Uploaded by AttitudeTV on 29.07.2010

Samoa, our Pacific neighbour yet with vastly different resources and attitudes towards
Off the tourist trail it’s a different story from the idyllic brochures and sunset beaches.
Talofa. Samoa, an island paradise – but even paradise can have its problems.
It’s still very much not so good here in Samoa, the attitude towards people with disabilities.
There’s been a lot of abandonment of people that do have disabilities, the children are
left to the grandparents, aunties or uncles to look after while the parents have moved
There’s a lot of things that need to be done to assist them, to assist this daughter.
I just wish we could do much more.
We’re on an intrepid journey around the island to meet the people, hear the stories,
see the beauty and the hardship. We’ll be asking the question “Is enough being done
for people with disabilities in Samoa?”.
For a lot of Samoan families disability is a shameful secret. People with disabilities
are often ostracized from their community and the wider society.
I think most people are changing their attitudes towards people with disabilities, it’s nothing
to be ashamed of.
Nuanua O Le Alofa is a non profit organization determined to change the perception of disability.
The name means Rainbow of love. Faatino is blind, nearly everyone working for the group
has a disability. They realize if they want to change they had to lead the charge themselves.
One of the things we do is raise awareness of the community on the issues and the rights
of persons with disabilities.
Faatino and her team want to get an accurate picture of disability in Samoa. They’re
conducting a census of the islands entire disabled population, while they’re at it
they’re putting families in touch with agencies that might be able to help.
Caring for persons with disabilities is the total responsibility of their families, I
think that’s why there’s a whole lot of issues facing persons with disabilities because
they don’t have that support and they don’t have that service to accommodate their daily
We’re an hour outside of Apia, inland the rural. Four people in the family we’re visiting
have a disability. There’s no phone, no car and for years they’ve existed without
any support…. But this family is just one of hundreds in the same isolated situation.
Eneliko is blind, he’s had limited schooling and now rarely leaves his home. He has none
of the modern aids that could improve his life. His brother has no communication and
appears to have multiple disabilities but he’s never been assessed. Their mother devotes
her life to her four disabled children.
Have you been blind since birth? Yes?
It’s the first time he’s been asked about his condition and his needs and it gives him
hope that his situation might change.
He’s saying now
he would like a white cane and he would also like a wheelchair because he’s growing old
at this stage. Whatever kind of assistance that’s possible would be highly appreciated.
Their poverty is compounded by the fact that their mother can’t work.
What are some of the challenges for your family having four people with a disability, what
are some of the things that are hard for the whole family?
One of the major challenges that they’ve realized is the financial side because without
the money they won’t be able to buy the needs that they want.
There is little information about disability, instead tales of sins and superstitions are
passed down through the generations.
What about your spirituality? Does this change your faith in God?
I believe that this is a challenge from God, it’s to test my faith in him. There is speculation
amongst the village that this is a sin, it’s a curse for the family but for myself this
is not a curse, this is all a challenge from God and it’s to make us stronger to have
these four kids. They did take the children to the monastery to see if it was a curse
but the nuns at the monastery told us that no it’s just to strengthen you and how you
carry your cross by God.
When the mum was talking about people in the village talking about a curse or something
what was she talking about then?
Samoan people are very superstitious and we tend to look at this like it’s a curse on
the family, either the mother or the father have done something in the past and the children
are now bearing the fruits of that. As you can see the fale or the house, this was donated
by St Vincents De Paul, they saw the living conditions they were living in, this was the
house just behind here and it’s actually just a shack. Here in Samoa there are no disability
benefits available so people with disabilities rely on organizations such as Nuanua O Le
Alofa for education, it is quite sad that the government isn’t providing special benefits
for people with disabilities, they tend to fend for themselves.