The SVSG Measles Outreach was greeted by one of the elderly village represetatives of Faleū Manono, Leiataua Lesā Setefano, and 15 other village leaders who are representatives of SVSG.
It was a positive sign of community resilience and support during this difficult time for our people; and a reassurance that together, we can face any storm.
And such support is very much needed by our people at Manono, who continue to struggle physically and mentally not only in caring for the children been affected by the measles, but also in dealing with the grief from the loss of our precious children taken way too soon.
The mothers held on to their sick children with so much anxiety while the little ones reached out to them in their moments of pain. It leaves an aching feeling in the heart just to witness such moments as we visited 6 affected families comprised of 16 households at Faleū and Salua Manono-uta. SVSG assisted a total of 39 children and 47 adults during the Outreach at Manono-uta.
One of the grieving mothers is 25 year old Enite Lefeau, who is 5 months pregnant, and had just buried her 9 months old daughter. She has 2 surviving children ages 6 and 2 years old. Enite shared with the SVSG Counselling Team on her anger and bitterness towards the whole situation. “I don’t know who to blame, so I just vented out at my parents, my husband, even my surviving children.” This is because when Enite’s 9 month old daughter was infected by the measles, Enite could not take care of her due to her pregnancy. It was Enite’s mother that was tasked with the caring up to her daughter’s death. “I only got to spend 2 hours with my daughter before she was buried, and I felt like I have been robbed of my right as a mother to care and to say goodbye to my daughter.”
And as the Outreach team visited the other families affected by the measles, we have to remain positive for the surviving children, as they too seemed all so lost. As such, it was a relief to see the smiles on the young girls faces upon putting on their beautiful dresses courtesy of the Dress a Girl Around the World of NZ.
SVSG believes in hope; and that despite the catastrophe that our country is in at the moment, the sun will always shine.
Today, SVSG acknowledges the kind donation of $2,000 from Laulu Henry & Moana Westerlund of the Blue Bird Construction. Thank you also to Mrs. Georgina Lui, the Chair of the SVSG Board for the Hyundai van allocated to assist SVSG in reaching many more families affected by the measles.
To our Givealittle donors from all over the world, we pray for God’s blessings upon you and your families for your generous support.
The 24 hour Free Help Line number 800-7874 operated by Samoa Victim Support Group has been busy with calls from parents in desperate need of help for their children amidst the measles crisis. Some required assistance for their children’s burial such as clothes; others required assistance with diapers, milk, and food to care for their children recovered from the measles and have been discharged from the hospital.
Even through the phone, we could hear the desperation in the voices of the parents; most have been caught off guard by the turn of events and needed someone to blame, hence they vented their frustration towards the whole situation through the Help Line.
And we don’t blame our people as most of the callers are families and parents of children victims of the measles from underprivileged families. Some just couldn’t afford a bus fare to travel to town to seek assistance which is what makes the Help Line more convenient.
On Wednesday, the SVSG Measles Outreach assisted a grieving single mother whose 4 year old son lost his battle with the measles. The mother walked from the hospital to the SVSG office for help in getting a white suit for her son. Through the kind donations we have received for the Measles Outreach, we were able to provide for this mother’s request. It really breaks the heart to see the pain and the sorrow through the eyes of this mother; but it has been a sight now becoming a norm to us as the Measles Outreach continues through the villages.
Later on the same afternoon, SVSG received a call on the Help Line from a 65 year old grandmother. She needed milk, diapers and food for her 2 grandchildren who have just been discharged from the hospital. The mother of the 2 grandchildren is 9 months pregnant and as such, she could not care for her young ones recovering from the measles. It was late at night when the grandmother was presented with the donations of a carton of milk, a packet of diapers, a bag of rice, boxes of noodles and toiletries. The relieved smile from the grandmother when presented with the donations was reward for a long day’s work.
The next day, a father of 5 children from called the Help Line twice during the government shut down period from 6am – 5pm, desperate for food for his children. Apparently, 3 of the children have been hospitalized due to the measles, including a 1 month old baby. Fortunately, all the 3 children have been recovered and continued to take medication at home. When the the curfew was lifted allowing vehicles back on the road at 5.00pm on the same day, the SVSG Measles Outreach team visited the family to assess their situation, and to present donations as requested.
We found the father infront of a 10 x 10 foot wooden box which is home to this couple and their 5 children. Inside the house was the mother and the 3 children who looked anything but recovered from the measles. It was a sight that broke the heart as the reality of the struggle faced by our underprivileged families on top of the measles epidemic, hits home. The was the only breadwinner in the family but when their 3 children were hospitalized, he quits his job to care for his other 2 children at home.
Thank you so much to Mr. & Mrs. Ken Newton of the CCK Trading for the donated bags of clothes as well as Ms. Josephine Stowers for the same. Today also, we received $1,000 from Tofilau Sharlene Lesa of the Tofilau Fashions Samoa and $500 from Muriel Lui & Precious Chang of the Lui & Chang Lawyers to assist with the Measles Outreach. At the same time, our families and friends from around the world are contributing towards the outreach through the Givealittle page. Through financial and in kind donations from our supporting families and friends, we are able to help the anxious parents during these desperate times.
Day 4 of the SVSG Measles Prevention & Helping Hand Outreach found the family of the first child whose life was claimed by the measles epidemic, still in a mourning state. The parents of 8 months old Hope Talamoni of Faleula, who passed away on 20th October 2019, smiled through tears as they pointed members of SVSG to Hope’s grave. The pain is felt by the remaining 9 members of this extended family, and SVSG being there is to reassure the Talamoni household that they are not alone. The grieving parents are now undergoing grief and trauma counselling with SVSG as part of the Outreach assistance being provided.
One of the families visited was that of Lapiki Motusaga who live about 1km inland of Faleula. There are 3 couples living together in this household with the youngest member at 11 months being one of the victims who passed away on 25th November 2019. Two other children from this family have been infected by the measles and were in isolation for the protection of a young mother who is 6 months now into her pregnancy. The Motusaga family do not have access to clean water and this is a concern for the SVSG’s Outreach program. A Response Team of SVSG youth and village representatives will carry out the necessary clean up work at the Motusaga household for the wellbeing of its remaining members.
The third family has 18 members including the 8 grandparents and parents age 70 - 77parents, 4 young adults and 6 children ages 7 months to 10 years old. The youngest member is 7 months old and is infected by the measles.
SVSG sat down with the adults in each of the families we visited and went over with them the basic cleanliness and hygiene solutions necessary to help contain the spread of the virus. Families were encouraged to have their members vaccinated while toiletries and food supplies were presented before the Team left each household.
Seeing small graves in front of family homes has now become the norm as the SVSG Measles Outreach continues; while the raw pain of death is obvious on the faces of the struggling parents and the surviving children, SVSG is comforted by love and support shown and extended from our families and friends here and abroad.
To date, we have received USD3,000 from the Taito Family Ministry and its Lend a Hand initiative to assist with the SVSG Measles Outreach. Thank you Fia Taito and the family for being part of the SVSG family over the years. You have not only supported SVSG’s programs for the children at the shelter, but here again, you have extended your family’s help to support the children victims of the measles epidemic and their families.
Last but not the least, SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledges the assistance from our supporters and former volunteers of SVSG who have donated through the Givealittle page specifically set up for the SVSG Measles Outreach.
From the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Vietnam, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand; we have seen humanity at its best during thes e trying times. As a family, we remain stronger.
The newly cemented small graves in front of the homes of our families visited by the SVSG Measles Outreach are by far the most amongst realities of the measles epidemic that has now claimed close to 60 lives of children in Samoa.
Day 3 of the SVSG Measles Prevention and Helping Hand Outreach took us to the underprivileged families living further inland of Leauvaa. Out of the 7 families visited, two of the families have lost 3 children to the measles; an unborn child from a mother 4 months into pregnancy, a 12 months old and an 18 months old.
There is a feeling of hopelessness within each of the households; the elderly grandparents continued praying for that much needed spiritual calmness; the young parents of the measles victims seemed all so lost; while the remaining children clung to the photos of their loved ones as they struggled to make sense of all the chaos.
For the 19 year old Noella Fa’atauu’u who is 7 months into her pregnancy, she smiled to us through her tears, as she talked fondly of her 12 months old daughter Noel, whose life was claimed by the measles virus on 18 November 2019.
Here we were, performing grief and loss counseling, yet, we were encouraged by the resilience of this young woman. She is drawing her strength from the support of her elderly parents, her siblings and her village community.
On the other hand, we had the 23 year old Taumaia Lio Willie, the pregnant mother who had lost her baby on 30 November 2019 as she was admistered with the measles vaccine. We found Taumaia still in bed, surrounded by her 3 and 2 years old daughters while her husband is remaining strong for the family.
A total of 10 families were assisted by the SVSG Measles Outreach at Leauvaa, comprised of 24 adults and 32 children. From the total of 56 people covered by the Outreach, 8 have been vaccinated in which 3 of those are children. There is a high risk of the measles spreading within each household due to the majority of them yet to be vaccinated. These families have been referred to the Disease Surveillance Team for vaccination schedule.
And while the SVSG Measles Outreach to our families in need and those in mourning continues, it has been a struggle to remain strong. Especially as we are constantly updated by the National Operation Centre of the increasing number of fatalities from this epidemic, majority are children. “Lord have mercy on the people of Samoa,” remains our silent prayer.
To the SVSG village representatives of Leauvaa namely Vaifale Soe, Taupou & Mapa Enosa, Peato Ah Sang, Upualise Samuelu and Tupana Sili, thank you so much for standing together with us as family.
Last but not the least, thank you Toleafoa Elon Betham and the staff of the CMN Company Limited for always responding positively to our request for assistance. Your donation of $500 will go a long way in supporting the SVSG Measles Prevention & Helping Hand Outreach especially our families who have lost loved ones due to this measles epidemic.
At the end of Day 3 of the SVSG Measles Outreach, we were able to reach 24 families: 10 families in Laulii (Day 1), 4 in Vaiusu (Day 2) and 10 in Leauvaa (Day 3); comprised of 58 adults and 94 children ages new born to 18 years of age.
Grief and trauma counseling were conducted for the parents and the families of 6/60 children whose lives have been lost to the measles virus to date. And as the child protection agency in Samoa, SVSG is taking its role seriously, and with compassion, because the future of Samoa is at risk, with the continuing loss of children’s lives due to the measles epidemic.
In response to the escalating measles crisis that is crippling our country to a state of mourning, Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG), in its role as a support service provider, is taking a proactive approach to prevent and to lend a helping hand.
Referred to as the ‘SVSG Measles Prevention & Helping Hand Outreach’, the initiative was co-launched by the SVSG Patron Hon. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, Board Member Mulipola Anarosa Molioo and President Siliniu Lina Chang. The Outreach will be carried out for 3 weeks from 30 November to 21 December 2019.
The aim of the Outreach is to prevent as much as possible the spread of the measles, especially to our underprivileged families. This is through awareness raising in each families on the importance of household hygiene, how to care for the affected children, counseling for the traumatized children and their parents, and the provision of basic necessities.
While the Outreach targets close to 900 SVSG village representatives and their families throughout Upolu, Savaii and Manono-tai, the priority will be on the SVSG’s families living in the Vaimauga and Faleata districts. It is SVSG’s way of reaching out and reassuring our families that despite the severity of the deadly measles epidemic, SVSG is always here to support, to help and to care as Family.
Please support the SVSG Measles Prevention & Helping Hand Outreach by pledging a donation that will go towards the provision of supplies, printing awareness materials and travelling to our people in need. You can call the SVSG office on 25392 or email email@example.com should you need more information.
Together, we can prevent the spread of the measles in our families, while lending a helping hand to those at risk of being affected.
Day 2 of the SVSG Measles Prevention and Helping Hand Outreach highlighted the need for grief counselling support, for the parents and siblings of the children whose lives have been claimed by the measles epidemic.
At Vaiusu, the SVSG Outreach found the parents of the 3 year old measles victim still in shock; and except for the fact that a new grave is erected infront of the family home, it is obvious that the parents are going progressing through the denial stage. It just breaks the heart; and to think that this is only Day 2 of the Outreach, yet, we are growing weary from crying. This is normal as we are only human.
The Vaiusu Outreach covered four families comprised of 25 children and 13 adults, with 5 of these adults being SVSG’s village representatives for Vaiusu.
Aimed at raising awareness on prevention and cleanliness, the provision of counseling support to the grieving families and the basic food supplies, we are glad that we have taken the initiative. Because for the families that we have visited so far, they needed the reassurance that as family, we will stand together to see this catastrophe through.
Thank you once again to our donors thus far, the SVSG Melbourne, Fexco Samoa, Dress a Girl Around the World, and the latest donor, Lend a Hand of Seattle Washington courtesy of the Taito Family Ministry. Your support enabled us to reach close to 100 of our people since the beginning of the SVSG Measles Prevention and Helping Hand Outreach.
Last but not the least, the SVSG President acknowledges the compassionate shown by our SVSG village representatives namely Lini Toomata, Aitilotilo Henry & Laumata Crawley and Fala’i & Telesia Lupeni as we walked from families to families during the Outreach program.
Despite the measles epidemic claiming the lives of three children from the same family at Laulii, the strength of a family, of a community and of a nation, standing together, is shining hope to a country in a state of emergency.
This was the observation from the team of volunteers who joined the Samoa Victim Support Group when the Group took its Measles Outreach program to the village communities over the weekend.
The SVSG Measles Prevention and Helping Hand Outreach is SVSG’s way of reaching out and reassuring families that despite the severity of the deadly measles epidemic, we are stronger together as a family.
SVSG’s Outreach covered ten of the Group’s families at Laulii, including the most devastated Tuivale family who had lost three children so far to the deadly virus. In working together with SVSG village representatives at Laulii, SVSG was able to reach the most vulnerable families in need of support during these trying times; some of which have very limited access to clean drinking water, others saw three extended households of 8 adults and 15 children sharing the same bathroom while other families with younger couples in their early 20s have children running with barely any clothes.
It breaks the heart to see the hardships faced by our underprivileged families in this area; on top of dealing with the loss of lives from the measles epidemic. However, through family counseling, awareness raising on maintaining basic hygiene, healthy eating and the donation of food, SVSG was able to see the smile on the children’s faces and hope in the eyes of their parents.
With financial support received so far from SVSG Melbourne $5,000, Fexco Samoa $3,000 and boxes of girls clothes from Dress a Girls Around the World of New Zealand, we were able to help ten families of 21 adults and 37 children (5 months – 18 years old) of Laulii; with more families to be covered during the 3-weeks Outreach.
SVSG President Siliniu Lina Chang acknowledged the commitment from our village representatives at Laulii for carrying the SVSG motto with pride that we support, we help, and we care for each other as Family.