A senior Reporter for the Samoa Observer Newspaper Group, Ilia L. Likou, has passed away.
She was surrounded by her family, church members and work colleagues during her final moments yesterday before she was taken off life support at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital. The cause of death could not be ascertained.
She was 36.
Ms. Likou, of Vaitele and Sogi, had worked for the Samoa Observer for more than 10 years, covering current affairs, Politics, Parliament and Court. She also spent time working in the Samoan section of the newspaper, now known as Fofoga Samoa.
Her passing, after just over two weeks at the hospital, comes as devastating news to her family, friends and colleagues who all agreed that she has gone way too soon.
“This is obviously a very difficult time for Ilia’s family as well as the Samoa Observer family,” said the Editor Mata’afa Keni Lesa. “Ilia was a very special person who possessed unique qualities that we will dearly miss. She was hard working, humble and a very respectful person."
“When it comes to her job, she was fearless and she was not afraid to ask the tough questions. The Samoa Observer and the media family in Samoa has lost a very committed journalist. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, loved ones and friends.”
Colleagues and friends immediately paid tribute to Ms. Likou through social media posts.
“You would always volunteer your time when it was needed,” former work colleague, Taina Kami Enoka said. “You worked hard and will always be remembered for your faith, your loyalty and commitment. Thank you for being you and a true testimony of faith.”
Vaitogi Asuisui Matafeo remembered her kindness. “Your presence, love and kindness will forever be with us. Rest for now until we meet again. R.I.P. my beautiful sister.”
Sarafina Sanerivi said Ms. Likou was taken too soon. She wrote: “They say the good die young, but I wish....I wish you didn't have to leave so soon my dear. My heart aches from missing you so much. But I know you are in a better place now. You were an angel on earth and I’m sure you'll shine up there.”
TV1 Presenter and friend, Sioeli Alofaifo found the news hard to believe.
“Rest in Peace my dear friend Iri,” he wrote. “E le galo oe.”
Ms. Likou did not just have an impact on her Samoan colleagues. Even non-Samoans were touched by her wonderful spirit.
“I just knew you for two month, but it was enough time to see your beautiful soul,” said Anina Kazaz who is from Switzerland.
“Lady Ilia, from the first day I met you, I was fascinated by your fluidity in your communication with people from all walks of life. I admired your writing, work ethic and the respectful, gentle way you always treated others."
“But I also saw a fearless leader in you Iri and you were well respected by everyone around you who looked up to you as a sister and yes sometimes a mother – affectionately known as the ‘Faletua’ in our workspace. I will miss your bright spark and I know that you will never be forgotten,” reporter Elizabeth Ah-Hi said.
“They say ‘Good people will always be remembered’ I guess that’s true. But I believe that’s true. But I believe that it is the legacy that you leave behind that will permanently tattoo your name on so many hearts. We have shared so many good memories together, and that I will forever cherish. This one is for you Iri, FLY HIGH,” Samoa Observer photographer, Misiona Simo wrote.
“It is going to be a big empty space, which no one is able to replace. I hope you are in good hands now, I know you are, because you deserve it.”
Fijian work colleague and Sub Editor, Ivamere Nataro said: “Iri, my dear sister, seven months in Samoa and with Samoa Observer has been a blessing for me because I got to meet such a beautiful soul. "
“I thank God for allowing our paths to cross and for the chance to meet you. You have taught me a lot about life and being strong in a place far away from home. I will miss you dearly my sister. You will always be part of my memories. I love you.”