Two tragedies involving children we simply cannot ignore

Two extremely tragic stories have generated a lot of discussion throughout the country during the past week.

Truth be told, it’s hard not to be affected by the stories, not just for the sheer sadness of what unfolded but with both involving children, they truly tug at the heartstrings.

Today being Sunday where we have the opportunity to pause and reflect, the stories are worth thinking about.

Indeed, each and every one of us will find a way to relate to the events here. Chances are we also know someone who is going through similar circumstances so that maybe today is the day we reach out to help.

The first story surfaced amidst the joyous celebration of the country’s independence. Published under the headline “Mother blames obesity for son's death, issues warning to parents,” the message in the story was perhaps lost amidst euphoria of the occasion.

But the story of Patrick Jason Kilali Te'o must be revisited. The lessons are far too important to ignore.

During an interview with the Samoa Observer, his mother, Aneriueta Seiuli Te'o, said her son died because he was too obese.

“He was always Mommy’s boy and he loved his food,” she said.

The photos we saw definitely proved this. From a young age, it appeared that Patrick was always obese until the day he took his final breath.

The scary thing here is that there are so many Patricks out there in Samoa. We see them at primary schools across the country, both boys and girls.

Today, Mrs. Te'o is a woman on a mission. She wants all the parents to monitor what their children are eating in a bid to avoid what happened her beloved son.

“I regret spoiling my son this way," she said about letting him eat anything and everything he wanted.

"Because of the eagerness that was in me to satisfy his needs, I let him just eat and he became bigger and bigger. Now he has passed away, I'm left to face this heartbreaking news that I never expected.”

Again, many parents can relate to this scenario.

I’m as guilty as some of those parents. The truth is that we love our children so much we often ignore what’s right just to satisfy their wants. We are talking about the mountain of junk food, drinks and the fatty stuff we buy and feed them under the guise of love.

The truth is quite the opposite. When we open our eyes, we will realise that it is not love at all. If anything, we are killing them slowly and surely. That is what is basically happening on these shores but we often choose to turn a blind eye.

Patrick’s death is a wake up call for every one. And it already is with the Ministry of Health reinforcing the message about banning junk food from all schools. It’s a wonderful development but it needs to be monitored for consistency and effectiveness.

We must credit Mrs. Te’o for finding the courage to speak up. Not many people who are going through such a tough ordeal would be willing to speak out but this mother has done it and her message must be heard loud and clear.

"To all the parents and whoever is reading, I advise you all to look after your children's diet,” she said.

“Always attend to their meals day and night as most of the children do not know what they're getting themselves into although we all know they love food."

Let Patrick’s life and death be a reminder to all parents to pay more attention to the diet of their children.

And still on parenting, the second story that sent shockwave throughout the country this week was published on Thursday’s Samoa Observer under the headline, “Police investigate death of one-year-old allegedly struck with a broom.”

This story involved a one-year-old girl from Samalaeulu, Savai'i, who was reportedly struck by her mother with a broom.

While the death remains the subject of a Police investigation, we cannot help but wonder; what kind of mother uses a broom to hit a one-year-old baby? What could possibly drive such anger? What is wrong with these people?

So much for love and the duty of care in this Christian country.

Today in Samoa, let’s think about our children and our duty of care as parents. We have a moral and a God-given responsibility not just to ensure they are looked after and healthy, but to protect them from harm and wanton violence.

Have restful Sunday Samoa, God bless!

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