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Help us Help the Poorest of the Poor.
By: Robyn Heirtzler It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day life of modern America. There’s so much to do in a single day that it’s difficult to get ahead. There’s work to be done, carpets to be cleaned and meals to prepare in our high-tech ovens. That’s not to mention the Little League games, dance recitals and music lessons.

So caught up are we in our busy schedules that we rarely have time to look beyond our borders to the lives of millions who are not as fortunate as ours.

When my mother e-mailed me from Western Samoa the reality of poverty hit me. Teaching English to underprivileged teenagers, my parents have been in the country for two months and have received love from the locals like no other.

The 22 boys in their school stay with their families on the weekends, but during the week, they stay in a dormitory in the town of Sauniatu to learn English and other skills. They are hard working, loving people who are eager to improve their lives and the lives of others.

The homes that the boys come from are little more than wooden floors with a roof overhead, but their love is enough to thrive on.
In the plea from my mother, she said, “Our boys were required to wear white shirts and ties to school this week. It happens every fourth week. When they came all spruced up in their Sunday best, we felt so bad.

Their shirts were in very poor condition; torn, stained, logos of who knows what, and too large or too small. Only a few shirts were fairly nice, but they all could stand mega improvement.
“These boys are the poorest of the poor, but they have the biggest hearts,” she added.

One boy, whose only concern is for his family, has accepted a job immediately after graduation making 80 cents per hour. This will not buy his family the things they need or provide for his brother’s dream of serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yet he is doing all that he is able, given the circumstances.

“He is willing to sacrifice for his brother,” my mother said. “He puts me to shame when I think of how everything comes so easy for us in the states and here it is an almost hopeless situation.”

The situation those boys are living in is all it took for my 14 year-old daughter, Kaneasha, to get involved. She has set a goal to earn enough money to buy some of the items those boys so badly need, including shirts and other clothing.

“With all the folks and students here, I promise it will all be given out,” my mother said.
My father added, “There are so many things needed over here. Every bit will go to help the people.”
To help these boys, Kaneasha has planned a carwash in the Wal-Mart parking lot Aug. 5. If you’d like to help or just want a clean car, stop by from 1-3 p.m.

It is the least we can do for these boys who are trying so hard to achieve their goals in a country that is so far behind the U.S. Every bit earned during the car wash will be used for the items the boys need most. Thank you in advance for your help and support.
Is Hardship Really a Problem in Samoa?
The existence of hardship in Samoa is difficult for some to understand and accept. Communities have always taken care of all their members, sharing food and goods between the richer and poorer members. But this traditional system is strained by modernization -- the need for cash, shift away from subsistence farming, growing population, and movement of people to towns.

Those who do not have jobs, skills, or any way to earn cash are suffering. Their dignity, pride, and in some cases their very survival, are in jeopardy. Some, especially the youth and school drop-outs, have turned to crime, prostitution, and drugs.

The personal stories in this booklet show the very desperate situations some people face. It is important to listen to their stories and strive to understand the nature of hardship in Samoa. Only then can effective strategies be developed to address it and improve the lives of the poor who are facing hardship every day.

Disadvantaged people suffer from “poverty of opportunity,” in which lack of access to jobs, education, and services restricts the opportunities available to them.

>> Source:
Unemployed Single Mother, 29 Years Old
“I left school when I was 17 years old. I made it to Lower 5 but did not pass the School Certificate exam. I decided to look for a job to help my mother. My father passed away two years after I left school, so my mother was struggling a lot to feed us. I worked at the Yazaki factory for three years. It was the only kind of employment I could find because of my education level. The wages were low, but it was something.

“I got pregnant with my first child when I was 22 years old. It was one of those one-time incidents. My mother said I have to come back to Savaii, and it was for the best since I felt I was a burden to our family in Apia. I have not returned to Apia since. I had my second child when I was 26. I am still unemployed and single. My brother is the breadwinner for our family, but one day he will have his own family. My mother is getting old and I do not want to leave her. I feel I should stay and look after her. I want to look for another job here in Savaii but there is nothing available given my education level. My kids need to go to school and eat. I am still looking for a job but it is not easy.

“I really have to think of the long run—we live in this tiny faleoo (native house) and life is already hard. I do not know what will happen with my job search, but hopefully I will get a job soon.”

>> Source: