Walk to save lives

By Mathias Huckert ,

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RAISING AWARENESS TO SAVE LIVES: Papali'i Caroline Ah Chong, Executive Director of Faataua Le Ola launched this year’s Walk For Life fundraiser at Apia’s Hotel Millenia yesterday.

RAISING AWARENESS TO SAVE LIVES: Papali'i Caroline Ah Chong, Executive Director of Faataua Le Ola launched this year’s Walk For Life fundraiser at Apia’s Hotel Millenia yesterday.

In 2014, statistics published by Inter Press Service News Agency said that in Samoa, the rate for suicides reached up to 30 per 100,000 inhabitants, with an undefined but even higher rate among young people of the country. 

In comparison, the suicide rate found in the United States of America amounts to roughly 12 people per 100.000. The U.S.A has a current population of approximately 323 million people, while Samoa only has about 198,000 inhabitants.

With such alarming numbers, the issue of suicide in Samoa, especially among young cannot be ignored.

This is why, after a break for the last three years, Fa’ataua le Ola officially launched the Walk For Life Fundraiser 2016, yesterday.

“For the past three years, Fa’ataua Le Ola has been unable to stage this annual fundraiser for many reasons,” Chairman Hans Joachim Keil said.

He was speaking at the Hotel Millenia yesterday where the launch was held.

But with the numbers of suicides in Samoa increasing over the years, being one of the highest of the South Pacific region, Faataua Le Ola will repeat its special event again this year on the 9th of July.

The organisation’s service offers “troubled individuals who seek a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on, a lifeline” all around the clock.

The annual event called Walk for Life aims to raise awareness about the alarming situation of suicides in Samoa. The walk will take place in Apia, with a starting and finishing point being set at the city’s waterfront.

As in the years before, most prominent participants of the walk will include for instance Samoa’s Head of State, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi and the organisation’s founder, Misa Telefoni Retzlaff.

This year, the walk will be led by the Head of State and the event’s mascot Nathan Keil, followed by many different schools of the area, for example Loto Taumafai School for the Disabled.

“The C.E.Os of all the government ministries, churches and colleges all come in full force to support us on that day,” said Papali’i Caroline Ah Chong, Executive Director of Fa’ataua Le Ola.

But the walk will of course also be accompanied by hopefully a high number of donations to ensure that Fa’ataua Le Ola’s lifeline service will still be able to operate in the future. 

The highest donation of the event’s history was done in 2012 by the Head of State: he raised half of the $60,000 to support the organisation. The donations will also include various members of the private sector, bestowed by several business enterprises and companies around the area.

During the event’s launching, Faataua Le Ola also addressed the ongoing problem caused by social media in the country, which led to several tragic events in the recent past. 

“It is a big problem,” Papali’i said. “It not only breaks up marriages, but [people] also put things on platforms such as Facebook or YouTube, which discriminate others. We try to address this phenomenon of “cyber-bullying”. We have outreached programs to the various colleges to raise awareness about these problems.”

 Fa’ataua Le Ola’s lifeline service can be reached 24/7 under 800-5433 and the Walk For Life fundraiser will take place on the 7th of July in Apia.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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