Finding positives amidst pain and adversity

A crisis deserves a crisis-like response. There is no other way.

Judging from how the Government had shutdown the country during the past two days in scenes never seen before on these shores, these are desperate times.

And understandably so. The death toll from the measles crisis continues to climb. At the time of writing, 63 people have been killed. The majority of them are children and many more are critically ill at different hospitals across the nation. Some of them will inevitably add to the statistics as this nightmare continues to unfold.

To say that this is a sad time in Samoa is an understatement. This is perhaps one of the darkest moments in this country’s proud history. You can sense it everywhere you turn, the scent of death hovers above a nation that is deep in mourning.

As a tiny country in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, we are vulnerable to natural disasters and we’ve experienced just how deadly they can be many times over. They strike indiscriminately and in many cases kill without question.

A quick trip down memory lane tells us that the worst most recent natural disaster was Cyclone Evan. The deadliest, however, during the past 10 years was the earthquake and the tsunami in 2009, which killed 147 people in one morning.

There is a marked difference between those catastrophes and what is happening now. While the helpless and crushing feeling that comes with the loss of life never changes, the circumstances are worlds apart.

The past natural disasters we’ve highlighted here struck unexpectedly and they only last no more than a day. The measles epidemic has been in Samoa for nearly two months now. With the death toll climbing by the day, the pain and suffering has been constant and sustained.

Indeed, it has been a nightmare that has refused to end. The worst part is that from where we stand today, we still don’t know when and how it will end.

According to the latest update provided on Friday afternoon, only one death was recorded between Thursday and Friday afternoon. One death is still one too many but it must be acknowledged it’s the least painful update we’ve had in nearly two weeks. Let’s pray and hope that we will get more of these updates and eventually where there are zero deaths.

We applaud every effort that has been made by the Government and all of Samoa’s international partners to fight this epidemic. Everyone has stepped up, put their best foot forward and done what’s needed to be done to help.

From the member of the Council of Deputies, Le Mamea Ropati Mualia, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, heads of Government Ministries, international partners, public servants, Miss Pacific Islands, volunteers and everyone involved in the mass vaccination campaign, we salute and acknowledge your work with deep gratitude.

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As with anything, there will always be glitches, problems and drama. There will always be questions and disagreements. There will even be fights; finger pointing and what have you. Samoa’s measles crisis including the mass vaccination campaign and the Government’s role in this episode is no exception.

But that’s life isn’t it? And this is not confined to Samoa. It happens everywhere.

Amidst the chaos, deaths and sadness, we need to find some positives and cherish those moments. In life, it is often how we respond to adversity and tragedy that define and strengthens us as a nation. It is when we are tested we get to discover what we are really made of and what we are capable of.

Despite the tragedy, we have also witnessed so many positive moments. The local and international community’s response to Samoa’s hour of need has been heartwarming. The dedication shown by health workers, who have been under the pump for nearly two months now is remarkable. Their courage and commitment must be commended.

It is a tragedy that 63 people have died. We maintain that there must be a full investigation into how this happened and how Samoa could not prevent it.

But if the local and international response to this crisis could spare an entire nation, then the lives of the people who have died have not been in vain.

And speaking of finding positives, Miss Samoa, Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland-Seumanu’s heroics at the Miss Pacific Islands where she has brought back the crown with her cannot be ignored. Even more significant and meaningful is her contribution to the vaccination campaign, where she has dived right into the effort to save lives. What a champion.

Now if only the Manu Samoa Sevens can win the Dubai leg of the H.S.B.C. Sevens this weekend…. fingers crossed.

Stay safe Samoa, get vaccinated and may God help us all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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