Catholic Samaritans share food, spread joy and love

Smiles of joy and hearts full of gratitude welcomed a team of Good Samaritans, who turned with much-needed help for vulnerable families, ahead of Christmas.

More than 200 struggling families are recipients of food supplies courtesy of donations from Catholic parishes across Upolu and Savaii.

The initiative is part of the World Day of the Poor, an annual event commemorated by Catholics on 15 November.

The international humanitarian arm of the Catholic Church, Caritas Samoa, is in charge of the distribution of donated goods.

A family of 15 from Tafa'igata was among the recipients. They received food supplies such as a sack of rice, box of noodles, tin fish and more. 

Mereane Perenise, a family member, was overjoyed and grateful. 

“Not every day you have a kind Samaritan to come bearing gifts for especially for your family,” she said.

The mother of eight told the Samoa Observer the supplies will be used to feed their family.

“There is only one member of our family with a formal employment but we also try and depend on our land resources. As a mother, trying to care for my children and grandchildren, this is a tremendous help.

“I pray that God will bless each and every one that had the heart to donate to those who are in need.”

The 48-year-old also shared that her family was relocated some years ago from Sogi.

Another family at Tafaigata living near the rubbish dump also benefitted from the generosity.

Faataualofa Jack said the gift was a surprise and she was grateful. The mother of six, who is also eight months pregnant said that the food supplies will lessen another financial burden for her family.

“I am grateful for this huge help, who knows maybe this was God’s way of helping us who are in need. May our Heavenly Father continue to shower his blessings upon those that donated,” she said.

Sala Georgina Bonin, the Coordinator of Programmes for Caritas Samoa confirmed that more than 200 families around Upolu and Savaii have received donations.

Sala added that Caritas is entirely dedicated to helping the poor.

“I think in the Catholic Church, the theme that the Pope has always said [is]: ‘Reach out your hands; stretch out your hands to the poor’,” she said. 

She said the assistance would be crucial for families struggling financially. 

“I think it’s very important in Samoa: about 19 per cent of our population is living under the relative basic needs poverty line and especially with the COVID-19 [pandemic] a lot of people have lost their jobs so there’s some kind of economic stress,” Sala said. 

“The impact on poor families is even worse because they have no income or steady income coming in.

“It is true that some families have plantations and land around to plant their own vegetables but money is needed for other necessities like electricity bills or transport fees.”

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