Life is precious. In some instances, it is too short for some people, way too short.
So today, as you gather your loved ones for some much needed rest and relaxation after a tough week, spare a thought for the family of 16-year-old Orlando Maulelia.
Whisper a prayer for them, and everyone else who is suffering for one reason or another. Let’s pray for peace, joy and comfort in these difficult times. Someone always has it worse.
As you are reading this piece, Orlando is being farewelled for the last time, more than two weeks after a fatal car crash on Vaea Street claimed his young life.
In between then and now, the story of what happened has been told over and over in different mediums with different twists and versions.
Know this, however, whatever has been reported and said, the one thing remains is that it will not bring him back. Young Orlando is gone, his soul at peace and what happened that led to his death we might never know.
On the front page of your newspaper yesterday, we got a glimpse into Orlando’s world through the lens of his father, Joseph Maulelia. The heartbroken man was brave enough to open up about the grief and suffering they have had to endure as a result of the tragedy.
It’s something no parent would want to experience.
Listen to Mr. Maulelia: “I miss him deeply. I especially miss him every time I think about chores, all sorts of things he helps out with. I am saddened that we have parted ways.”
For the uninitiated, Orlando was a Year 11 student at St Joseph’s College. He was the fourth eldest child of Joseph and Elaine Maulelia from the villages of Tulaele and Lepea. The young boy was always passionate about cars.
But then he was perhaps predestined to love cars.
“He was named after Orlando Keil from Lotopa because I used to work there at workshop. The person who owns the name loves cars so I guess his father and Orlando both have that passion.”
At school, Orlando’s passing is a huge loss.
“According to his school Principal, the whole school wept for the loss of one of their own. After their assembly, his classmates went inside their classroom and made a circle around Orlando’s desk and chair and continued in tears as they remember and miss his unforgettable ways.”
Up until now, no one seems to know what exactly happened.
“Some claimed that there was a race and someone’s car hit my son’s car and caused the accident, but then only God knows the truth of everything,” said Mr. Maulelia said.
“At this very moment we only pray for God’s forgiveness upon them because nothing will bring back my son if we carry out any further investigations. All we have to do now is forgive whoever did this, whether my son was wrong or right, there is nothing more that can be done.”
Mr. Maulelia is correct in a way.
But we believe the Police must get to the bottom of this and find out what happened so that we don’t have any more stories about young lives like Orlando being wasted.
It is not normal when a young boy dies under these circumstances. Someone somewhere knows what happened and that needs to be discovered which could possibly save another life.
The best thing that could come out of Orlando’s death are better measures put in place to ensure the circumstances of what happened two weeks ago are not repeated. Could Orlando have been saved if the circumstances were different? Who knows?
Now earlier this week, we’ve been told that the Police have launched an operation to crack down on speedsters on the road. Called the “Speed Racers Operation”, the campaign aims to reduce the number of lives wasted through crashes caused by speeding and in some cases boy racing in Samoa.
This is a positive step.
Speaking of boy racers, the reality cannot be denied anymore that in Samoa, people who love cars are increasing in numbers, increasing the possibility of some of them wanting to race – drag or otherwise.
Is it not time to consider opening up a venue somewhere where these people can do this in a safer and more controlled environment rather than having them race on the streets endangering lives of innocent members of the public and themselves on public roads?
It’s just an idea.
That said, we hope Orlando’s death is not in vain. Let his death be the catalyst for more positive changes to protect and ensure other young people are protected. Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!