Daylight begging in Apia normal
The faces of “progressive Samoa” are not hard to spot in the Apia Township.
Whereas farmers and vendors continue to battle heavy rain and flooding at Fugalei, beggars are not hard to find at all.
In fact, you don't have to find them.
They will find you.
Yesterday, the Samoa Observer took a quick trip around Apia and counted up to 20 beggars on the streets. Their ages vary from the young to the old.
Among them was a man who identified himself as Peter Junior. He was sitting on the footpath outside the National Provident Fund Building on Beach Road. Aged 27, Mr. Junior says he is from Pesega.
“My brain does not function well; I have a heart condition,” he says. “I have two illnesses. They are high blood pressure and heart disease.”
“The reason why I am sick is because of my mother’s family, it is hereditary. I have gone to the doctors and they say that I am going to stay like this forever.”
Mr. Junior says he doesn't have a family.
“The reason why I am doing this is because I want to buy me a packet of smokes as well as some food.”
Mr. Junior says on a good day, he can collect up to a $100. The money is used to buy food and sugar, he says.
“I haven’t been a beggar for that long but I just come here to try it like other disabled people around Apia who are begging for money.
“I have no job because I wasn’t a clever kid at school so that is why I am here.”
Mr. Junior says that he catches the bus from Pesega in the early hours of the morning because that is when most of the workers go to work.
“I know some people look at me disgracefully but I have no other hope,” he says.
Some workers at Polynesian Airlines say Mr. Junior is there every day.
Ne’emia Ne’emia, of Afega, sits near the Lotto Samoa store. He asks for $2 everytime someone walks past him.
“I come here because I want some money,” he says.
Mr. Ne’emia says that he is the only child of his immediate family living in Samoa as most of his siblings and mother are in New Zealand.
His parents have also separated.
“My mother has gone overseas and so I live with my mum’s brother who gives me a hiding if I don’t do any chores,” he says.
“My mother loves me but sometimes she gets angry at me.
I have no idea why but I know it is because I am disabled. I am not worth anything here.”
Mr. Ne'emia says he has decided to beg for a number of reasons.
“It was my decision to come here; I came here to beg for money and save some of it to contribute to the Sunday offerings for our Seventh Day Adventist Church.”
Mr. Ne'emia says he makes between $200 to $300 a week.