Simple life and safety prevail on Manono Island

Upon getting off the boat to Manono island two things become conspicuous by their absence: vehicles and dogs.

The banning of both, and the island’s relatively spread out population, is being given credit by village authorities with keeping the island mostly untouched by the measles epidemic that has spread far across the nation’s other bigger islands. 

The less than 1000 inhabitants of the island have watched on as measles has spread through Samoa’s two most populous islands, Upolu and Savaii, which it lies in between and they've expressed gratitude for their simple lifestyle, to which they attribute their protection from the disease so far. 

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, one of the chiefs in the island, Seumaalii Magia said the separation from the nation’s main islands is one of the things to have sustained Manono island during the national crisis. 

Last week on Friday, the only baby on the island to have contracted measles, Osana Faamoemoe, only narrowly escaped death after her treatment at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole hospital in Motootua.

Her recovery brought expressions of gratitude not only from members of her family but also the rest of the island.

Seumaalii said he believed the addition of dogs and vehicles to the island would only facilitate the spread across the island of an epidemic of the world’s most contagious virus, the spread of which is linked to poor hygiene. 

The banning of dogs from the island is a tradition that has existed for so long that none of the island’s occupants can remember the original reason for its being brought in. 

According to Seumaalii, anyone who brings a dog on the island is to be punished.

As for visiting tourists, their dogs will be sent back to the main lands of Upolu unless they are puppies.

"We grew up knowing that we're not allowed to bring any dogs on the island and we're just keeping the rules and continuing them along the way,” he said. 

Seumaalii advised the public and tourists to help the island keep these rules respected.

"This part about Manono is part of who we are and you know will believe it when you see [the surprise on the face of] a kid from Manono coming to Apia and they see a dog and the crowd of vehicles," he said.

"Manono stays simple and free."

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