After blessing the home of the elders at Mapuifagalele a few days ago with bountiful donations, the team from Utah Valley University (U.V.U.) had more blessings to distribute yesterday.
The team, led by Papali’i Sam Atoa, presented another donation to the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.).
The U.V.U. team met with M.O.H. C.E.O, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri and his management team for the official hand over. The different supplies will be distributed by the Ministry to the hospitals who need them most.
Papali’i, who is married to Lori Atoa, says giving is part of his fabric. The father of six, with five children accompanying him on this trip, said it’s a privilege to be able to bless people in the community.
But where did this man with a big heart for Samoa come from?
“I was born and raised in Lotopa, Pesega; I went to school at Pesega and I graduated there in the year 1980,” Papali’i said.
“Once I graduated I left and went to B.Y.U. Hawaii and then on to serve the church mission, I have been working at U.V.U. for the last 26 years as the women’s volley ball team coach.
“I have also been able to bring my volleyball team to Samoa every four years so they will be coming with me in 2018.
“Growing up here in Samoa provided a good foundation for me as I grew up.”
According to Papali’i, his heart to give was something passed down from his parents.
“I was taught by good parents, they taught us to serve and to help others and my dad was a very good example of that especially with the Samoan culture where he would help a lot of people,” he said.
“Since I left and went to the States, I have always had the drive to try and help as much as I possibly could.
“So now that we are in the position to do, we have offered our support and help ever since the Tsunami; this is the seventh year in a row we are able to bring a container to help and support the people of Samoa.”
Aside from being taught well by his parents, Papali’i said his love for Samoa is a major factor.
“One of the main motivations I have to give is my love for Samoa, I think that there is a need in different areas as far as Samoa goes,” he said.
“There are different opportunities for me to provide a service opportunity for my family, my children as well as U.V.U’s engaged learning opportunities for the students that are there.
“Those are the different ways that motivate me to want to continue to help other.
“One of the biggest fulfillments for me is seeing the children’s smiles at the hospitals or the smile of those at Mapuifagalele when they see the things we are able to give; that’s why we do this.”
Help has been offered by Papali’i and his group ever since 2010 where they would send a container full of supplies every year for the people of Samoa.
“We first started this back in 2010 when we came over to help support the Tsunami relief work, and there has been a container coming in every year since.
“Each container is worth thousands and thousands of dollars but a lot of the things we bring are donations, and many others are not free.
“This is all possible because of the generous donations of people in the states who have helped us to bring these necessary supplies and equipment for the different organizations and people in Samoa.
“We hope to continue this for many more years to come, but I feel that together with U.V.U, we will be able to continue this initiative.”
Papali’i draws a lot of his inspiration from the Samoan culture and the unity of the people.
“The greatest thing about Samoa is how we care for each other and want to be able to help one another, so for me I want to continue to do that as well,” he said.
“The Samoan people are very loving and very giving; I just hope that they continue to put themselves into those situations to help whether it’s with the elderly or the children.
“That’s one thing I love about the Samoan culture, everyone helps each other, very rarely do we see anyone going hungry, and they always have family and friends to always help.”
The group also partners up with Afoa Johnny Moors to help out U.S. Veterans in Samoa through the project ‘operation give’.