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.