Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Our Host Family


The Tofilau Kapeli Family
Front: Fa’apisa (8), Tali (14), Manuli (11)
Middle Row: Salote (49), Fanali* (27) with KJ (8 months), Ime, Tofilau (53),
Rear: Fiaputa (16), Sefo (18), Taitaia (19)

All the children pictured are going to primary or secondary school. Fanali left for Rome the day of this for the next four years to train to be a teacher in a Catholic College or to be a priest. KJ is the grandchild of Easter (not pictured). Ime is the sister of Tofilau and lives nearby.

Not pictured, not living at home: Filipo (29) was living in Australia for the past two years and maybe to be a priest; Easter, mother of KJ in picture, we think is married to a man who plays basketball for the Samoan National team, Eneliko (22, male) a student, lives and works in Apia.

Understanding a Samoan family can be a challenge. The family who provides us with food and shelter is no different. We do know they have 10 children, of whom six live at home. There is a constant flow of brothers, sisters, cousins, nephews and other relatives who either live in the surrounding houses or are constantly coming and going, sometimes staying, sometimes leaving children behind.

Tofilau is the head of this family with titles of high chief, orator, and Pulenu’u (Mayor of the Village). His parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are buried in large concrete tombs in the front of the property for all to see. These are constant reminders to him and everyone else of the legacy he bears.

The picture is taken includes the graves of Tofilau’s parents. This is one of the most important places on the property. There are other graves in front of our house of family ancestors. These types of graves are in front of people’s houses and are reserved for those family members of high village rank. The sites are often decorated and people sometimes sleep and play on them.

Villages in Samoa are made up of huge extended families with roots that go back hundreds of years. They are tied to the land and to their membership in the village. Many Samoans live and work in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States to support their families in Samoa. These remittances from children abroad seem to be the main source of income

1 comment:

Teri said...

Very somber looking family. Wonder why not a single one is smiling. Maybe not used to having their picture taken?