For many families who were devastated by the tsunami in September 2009, the scars are not easy to get rid of. For Mose Kamu, of Lalomanu, he will never forget the sight of destruction when he first arrived at his home on that day.
Aged 64, he explains his story of grief.
“At that time I was working for the Governments Agricultural sector so I was in Apia and the Earthquake hit when I was waiting for the bus to go to work,” he told the Village Voice.
“The bus then left and I reached Matautu and a few people jumped on with their bags and holding their children tight.”
“The people said there was no sea at the wharf. The bus then took us to the Avele grounds and we waited there because we were told to get to high grounds.”
“The bus driver then said he needs to call his family and I started to get worried. The driver kept calling his family in the rural village and a stranger picked up saying there was no one at the house and he heard the phone ringing while walking past.”
“The bus driver then said we need to go back because his mom has died so we all came back to this village.”
Mose continued to describe the scene of that fateful day.
“The bus driver started picking up all the families who wanted to come back to the village to see their loved ones,” he said. “The bus couldn’t get to the effected areas so we all got off and walked the rest of the way here. It was a sad sight. The hospital was packed and everyone was still in shock.”
“The doctors said they couldn’t fit any more people in the hospital so they started covering dead bodies with tarpaulin.”
“People had to go through all the dead bodies to try and identify them.”
Losing a few loved ones himself, Mose says the sorrow he felt that day is still felt at present.
“I felt the pain in my heart for other families,” he said.
“There were many who lost more than three loved ones so I felt very sorry for them. Some even lost 14 including children.”
“It was a devastating sight. I lost my mother that day. When the tsunami hit we found her on top of the breadfruit tree. My mother was naked on the tree but some passerby’s through clothes up at her before we got there to help cover her up.”
“I also lost one of siblings. The wave came and did its work on her and washed her out to sea.”
And from this day onwards, Mose and his family refuse to live by the ocean again.
“We had our service last night where we mourned again,” he said.
“The Lord is in charge of his creation. He who gives life can take it back again. It’s not up to us. My family no longer live by the sea; we moved further inland to keep ourselves safe from such disasters.”
“We don’t want to go back since that day.”