Boots donation, P.M’s comments and friend of Samoa Jo Mirkana

Jo Mikarna. Now that’s a name to remember folks, she’s a true friend of Samoa. 

A Policewoman in Melbourne Australia, she has been dubbed Samoa’s “most prolific tourist” for obvious reasons, and has perhaps been to Samoa more times than most Samoans residing overseas.

But she doesn’t just come for pleasure. While she is in Samoa enjoying herself, she’s constantly on the look out for ways to help the locals. 

Which brings us to her trip to Samoa this week, where she’s been rubbing shoulders with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi at the unlikeliest of places for a tourist to visit, the Crop Station Division at Nu’u.

So how did it begin?

Well it started when a friend of hers in Samoa asked that on her next trip over, could she bring him a pair of work boots.

“I told him, I can’t afford boots, but I did look around the office, and I realised yes, I can get you some boots,” she said. It dawned on her that in Australia, there are boots for Police officers waiting to be recycled and that was when the idea was born to collect the boots. 

On Tuesday in the presence of Prime Minister Tuilaepa, she didn’t just present one pair of boots for her friend, she presented 4,000 pairs for Samoa. And just before anyone discredits the work saying that the boots are “rubbish” being dumped in Samoa, they are not. They are quality working shoes that would’ve otherwise ended up being shredded. 

And in Samoa where the majority of farmers and hard labourers still only wear sandals to work, those boots could actually save someone’s life, especially young people.

For Ms. Mikarna, she said: “I have explained to the Agriculture Minister and his team that if his staff or if other people are seen wearing these boots and they’re not in the right industry, it’s not looking good. These are for the vulnerable, who can’t get to the extra money.”

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And that brings us to Prime Minister Tuilaepa. Ms. Mikarna’s message was clearly not lost on the Acting Minister of Agriculture, so that at the presentation of the container of boots, he was quite direct in warning that the boots are not for MAF workers but for the people who really need them in Samoa.

 “MAF is not allowed to receive any boots, they do not need them, and if they do, they can buy it because they get paid,” Tuilaepa said.

“We do not want anything bad to happen to the assistance that was given by this kind lady, because we need another hundred of these in the future for the benefit of people.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa then took a trip down memory lane, reminding about a project involving chainsaws as part of a Government-driven effort to curb the rhino beetle problem.

 “Up until now I have not seen a report that these chainsaws have been used,” he said. “The chainsaws were given to village mayors but so many have not used it, they must still be sitting under their beds.”

With that, he urged the Ministry to allocate the donated resources fairly and to avoid any complaints by the public.

“I have been tired of reading so many complaints against the Government, along with me getting all the blame, when I had nothing to do with it,” he said.

He went a step further and said that perhaps a list of recipients ought to be shown first to Cabinet.

“It is better to have 13 eyes looking at it than only three eyes – which includes the Minister, Associate Minister and CEO of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries,” he said.

Well that’s a pretty firm message from the Prime Minister, a vote of no confidence in the honesty of certain people. 

But the Prime Minister does have a valid point. We’ve seen far too many of these donations abused and misused at the hands of people who are in those positions to ensure all members of the public – who deserve help – should benefit.

So let’s hope all these 4,000 boots get to the people who deserve them the most. As for Ms. Mirkana, well we will remember you. Thank you for thinking of ways to help Samoa, you will always be welcome to our country.  And please invite your friends and families to come too. There is much to enjoy about Samoa.

Have a beautiful Thursday Samoa, God bless! 

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