Identical twins celebrate quarantine clearance

For 23-year-old identical twins Mark and Mathew Ulatifa, getting separated for the second time in their lives when the latter left the country for seasonal work abroad had its challenges.

But the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic this year struck fear in the twin brothers, who stayed in touch through social media, though they acknowledged that returning to Samoa is the best protection against a spreading virus.

Mathew was among 200 passengers who returned to Samoa from New Zealand in a repatriation flight over a fortnight ago, and on Friday was given a clean bill of health by the local health authorities, to be reunited with his brother and family after quarantine.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Mark said there is joy in the air again for his twin having returned safely home at the height of the pandemic in New Zealand. 

“It was like a huge part of me was missing when Mathew left for work and it was just sad and depressing when the COVID-19 entered the picture,” he said.

“This is the second time we’ve been separated like this and though we were always catching up via [Facebook] Messenger and social media, it was never the same.

“But thankfully, God stood by him and our family. He has returned home safely and all our worries are gone.”

Just like any other Samoan, Mathew left the country for greener pastures in New Zealand, while his twin Mark stayed back with his wife and son. And despite having his own family, Mark has now insisted that his brother lives with them.

Mark currently works at the Samoa Post Office in Apia and together with his twin are from Moata’a, where their parents served as church ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa.

Since they were born the twins have never been separated until Mathew first left for seasonal work abroad.

The twins attended the Apia Primary School, before going to Avele College and then the National University of Samoa.

As a family they share a lot of what they have including responsibilities. 

Recalling their childhood days, Mark says there was barely a time when he and his twin had differences and argued. 

In parting advice to those grappling with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the twins urged them to always be there for each other in these times of uncertainty.

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