Growing number of abandoned babies disheartening. We’re better than that Samoa.
Last week, two stories published on the front page of the Samoa Observer, made for some extremely sad reading.
To be honest, since the stories involved the mistreatment of innocent lives who had no control over what was being done to them, as a parent, they were difficult stories to stomach. Indeed, they were heartbreaking stories.
On Friday, the headline read: “Top cop appeals to mothers as baby Tautai laid to rest.” The story in question was about a baby who had been abandoned and was found floating at sea in Lauli'i. For a month, his body remained at the morgue and nobody had come forward to claim him.
Thanks to collaboration between the Police Services and a local resident identified as Fesilafa'i Aumaga, the infant given the name Tautai, was afforded a proper burial at Tafa’igata cemetery.
But not before the Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, used the opportunity to again highlight growing concerns about the increasing number of infant abandonment cases in Samoa.
"As a Police officer, this type of incident involving the death of Tautai, is very difficult to swallow or comprehend. It seems abandonment is on the rise in our small island nation, it is very concerning to law enforcement," Fuiava said.
"The loss of a child is a loss of innocence, and the death of the most vulnerable. The death of a child also signifies the loss of the future, a loss of renewed strength, an inspiration, a loss of hope.”
In this country, don’t we all believe that children are a gift from God? So why would someone possibly do such a thing to an innocent life? What could drive someone to throw a helpless baby into the ocean? These are critical questions.
We say this because while Tautai has now been buried, we might never know what happened to him and who is responsible for it. Which is truly alarming, don’t you think?
In any case, the Police Commissioner acknowledged with gratitude Fesilafa'i Aumaga for stepping forward to organise the baby's funeral and paying the costs.
"She did not have to do this, but she said she was compelled by the spirit to do so, so thank you," said Fuiava. The contribution of the women of the Police Women's Advisory Network as well as its President Inspector, Efu Tuala, were also rightfully acknowledged.
Lastly, in an appeal to young mothers, the Police Commissioner urged them not to abandon their children and instead approach law enforcement agencies.
“Hand them over to us so we can protect them and place them into proper homes, where they can be loved by people who have been praying and trying to get children,” Fuiava said. “These innocent ones deserve a chance to live and experience life."
We couldn’t agree more. We acknowledge with gratitude again the work by Fesilafai Aumaga and the Police for treating baby Tautai with such respect. Regardless of the circumstances, this baby’s life is precious and should be accorded the love and care all other human beings are entitled to.
The tragedy is that this case is another sad reminder about an issue that happens a lot in Samoa and yet many of us feel uncomfortable to confront.
Which brings us to the second story titled “One hundred orphaned babies found shelter” published on the front page of the Samoa Observer on Saturday.
The story is about the work being done by the Samoa Victims Support Group, which had launched a programme called "Saving Lives."
The Chairperson of the S.V.S.G Board, Georgina Newton Lui, said the campaign is in response to the increasing number of cases of abandoned babies that they were unable to save.
“We are reminding the public that we are here to help,” she said.
“We want to send our message out that we can help any person in any situation if it’s a young mother or a young man, we can help facilitate the need.
“Our campaign focuses on young mothers or any mother who is with child and worried about stigma or discrimination. We want mothers to know that we have a 24 hour help line: +685 800-7874 so they can call us at any time and somebody will always answer the phone.”
Thank you Georgina Lui and the team at the Samoa Victims Support Group for the work being done. We certainly hope that members of the public do get the message that there is help available if and when they find themselves in these sorts of undesirable circumstances.
Lastly, let’s go back to that number of babies that the S.V.S.G. has had to help over the years. According to the story, we are talking about more than a hundred babies. We repeat, more than a hundred babies. Wow.
In one of those cases, S.V.S.G. Board member, Mulipola Anarosa Molio'o, said employees discovered a baby at the doorsteps of their headquarters.
“S.V.S.G. did not question who it is or who is to blame,” she said. “No we did our rescue work and over 100 cases of babies abandoned and left in the care of S.V.S.G. which have been saved.”
This is truly heartbreaking. And all this is happening in Samoa that is supposed to be a Christian state.
Come on Samoa, we need to wake up; we are a lot better than this.