FAMILY STILL WAITS FOR HELP AFTER SAMOA

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TSUNAMI
Continues to live in temporary shelter

By Marieta Heidi Ilalio APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 8, 2010) - Going on to four months after the tsunami struck Satitoa, So’otaga Ta’uinaola and his family are still camping in a make shift shack in Samoa.

The roofing iron tells a story. They remind him of how the devastating waves folded his previous home, leaving them without anything.

If other emergency shelters similar to his weren’t scattered around the village, So’otaga’s home would be a disgrace. It looks more like a cook house.

Only tarpaulins donated by strangers keep the rain out.

What’s more, it looks physically unsteady.

"As you can see, it’s not a lot," he told the Samoa Observer yesterday. "We can’t wait for a new house."

Plans of the new house, however, has only brought So’otaga a headache.

He said he was given options by his village pulenu’u (mayor).

"According to the mayor, if a family’s house is to be built by the Catholic Church’s Caritas or the LDS, then the government will not help them," he said.

"This means I will not be entitled to the 18,000 tala [US$7,000] worth of materials promised by the government.

"It’s so unfair. It’s the government’s role to step up and help us, the tsunami victims. What happened to the materials they promised?"

So’otaga said he decided to let the Caritas help them thinking there will be another assistance from the government.

"So if that is the case, these promises made by the government about the assistance are useless," he said.

Another man from Satitoa, Pale Sagato, said they are still waiting for the government.

"I thought the government will build our house before the festive season," he said. Both So’otaga and Mr. Sagato said they were grateful to the assistance from Caritas and the LDS church.

But they say this does not mean the government should escape from its responsibility.

"We are people of this country, our government should help us," Mr. Sagato said.

"This is so unfair and unacceptable. The government has to step up and help despite the assistance from these good organizations."

Mr. Sagato questioned where all the monetary donations given to the government for shelters and reconstruction have gone to.

"I wonder when their words will be put into action," he said.

"We are still waiting."

No comment could be obtained from the government at press time. Government officials are on holiday until Monday.

Before Christmas, Government approved a week-extra holidays to reward government workers for their work during the post-tsunami period.

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