Rugby stars help families of measles victims directly

A handful of former All Blacks and current rugby stars from New Zealand who have roots in Samoa together fundraised a total of $175,000 tala (NZ$100,000) for families impacted by the measles outbreak.  

The donations that started with a $50,000 pledge led by former All Blacks Sonny Bill Williams collected the monetary gifts through the Alofa mo Samoa Givealittle page. 

He was joined by a host of past and present rugby stars including Sir La’auli Michael Jones, Jerome Kaino, Quade Cooper, Ardie Savea, Ofa Tuungafasi and Patrick Tuipulotu. 

La’auli who was in the country just before Christmas, distributed the money with a group of volunteers to the immediate families of those who suffered loss of a loved one from the measles. 

“The funds were distributed evenly per fatality based on the numbers of recorded deaths, which currently stands at 77 [at the time],” said La’auli on the Alofa mo Samoa Givealiitle page. 

“We have successfully met and presented the mea’alofa (gift) to 51 families. 

“The remaining families, who have been harder to contact due to lack of access to phones or mobile services, will be located and visited by our team or through village representatives and will be able to access their mea’alofa (gift) through the same process as the others. 

“We are confident they will receive their gift in time for Christmas.”

La’auli said it has been a humbling experience to personally meet each of the families affected and share “their grief, and to pass on the collective love that was given by so many”.   

“Each family expressed their immense gratitude for this timely gift, to financially assist them through this very difficult and sad time,” he said.

“Again, we thank you all for your amazing generosity and compassion for our beloved families in Samoa.” 

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