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.