Word is getting around quickly. SWAP Headquarters is turning heads all over Lotopa.
This morning I sat under our newly constructed out-door living area, enjoying a cup of coffee. Just two weeks ago I would be cross-legged on a grassy lawn. But thanks to the team’s hard work, we have a concrete patio of sorts, a shaded area and an outdoor table made of macrocarpa and pine.
Such work has not gone unnoticed. In-fact our renovations have attracted requests for paid work, a curious youth with a machete from next door (he trimmed our trees) and school children who hang back in packs, peeking through the fence at ‘the Palagi house.’
I must admit, from outside looking in, it is a curious sight – a maze of computer desks, a bookshelf crammed with books, office supplies, camera equipment and six wireless telephones. Then there is the matter of two-iron shipping containers on the front lawn, full of house hold contents and bulk food. It has got the neighbourhood’s eyebrows up.
So it was no surprise this morning when I heard ‘ssssssshhhhhh Sole.’ (Samoan for boy) A car full of young men asking, ‘Is this the Palagi house of Lotopa?’ I replied ‘I guess.’ And they continued to ask what we were doing, do we work for the TV, do we have work, are we here for a long time.
They had come from a neighbouring village, out of curiosity. It seemed everyone wanted to be linked with what’s going on behind our barbed wire fence. After some time of just starring in to the yard they eventually left.
A day earlier Dennis had three local boys over, studying maps of Upolu. (We are planning a film trip to their village) Vehicles would slow to see what was going on. The three boys would wave grandiosely, chuckling while tipping their chilled Coca-Colas to the air. It seems our presence has created an excitement among our tight neighbourhood.
The friendly inquisitors were welcome change from “resistance to a threat”. Samoan’s attitude towards Palagi sits on a wide spectrum. I have questioned morally the effects of my work here but I think that the SWAP initiative will create jobs and opportunity for the local people. It is positive.
To see people wanting to be listed for jobs is encouraging.