The tragedy of the measles epidemic was the fire that fueled Miss Samoa Fonoifafo Nancy McFarland-Seumanu, to go into the beauty pageant and bring home the Miss Pacific Island crown.
The behind the scene force that lit the motivation fire for the Samoan contestant was the organising brain trust of the Miss Samoa pageant, Manaia Events Incorporated,
The Director of the Manaia Events, solicitor Leiataualesa Jerry Brunt, said that being away right in the middle of the national state emergency was not easy for them while on their way to Papua New Guinea.
He commented to the media on the challenge they went through, during a welcome home treat yesterday by the Bluesky Samoa for the region’s new reigning beauty queen.
“It felt like we were leaving behind a place where we were more needed than going abroad but we had no choice.
“However, that was the biggest motivation factor that we had with us, to return some good news to the people that were much, much affected.”
He said their team were in tears when they heard the death toll number shot up on the night of the Pageant.
“When we left it was 23 deaths and mostly babies and kids but when we got there the number had shot up to about 44 and ninety percent of them are babies,” he said.
“We were only away for about a week and on the pageant night it was very hard to hold back tears.
“Being a father myself it was hard, but we used it as our Miss Pacific motivation, we used it as fuel.
“We wanted to send some good news to our much, much affected country.
“So “fa’afetai Samoa mo le tou tapuaiga.”
The win was the first for Samoa after a slump of five years and was also rewarded with the additional bonus of hosting the next Miss Pacific Island pageant next year.
The Director of Manaia Events went on to say that Team Miss Samoa were off on the road to Papua New Guinea straight after the Miss Samoa Pageant.
He credited Blue Sky for the support as well as Samoa Airways that flew them all the way on sponsorship.
There were various fashion houses that donated outfits, and so many people who contributed to the outfits.
He acknowledged all those who were able to help out with the outfits of Fonoifafo as well as supporting them while in PNG.
Asked the new Miss Pacific Island Queen how she feels she said she is honored and humbled.
“I feel honored and humbled that I get to bring this back especially during this time,” she said.
“But I can’t take the credit alone I couldn’t have done this without the support that I had behind me, the support of our country, our sponsors and especially Manaia Events.
“Manaia Events did not have enough sleep but I was able to get my 8 hours sleep and they made sure that I was well rested.
“ I was prepared mentally, emotionally, spiritually for the challenges that were ready to come and they were really the ones who did the work behind the scenes I was just the face.”
She added that she will be pushing for the importance of education and health during her reign as Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific Island.
“However, at this very moment it will be our epidemic that our country is going through that is sort of my priority right now is just seeing where I could be of use.”