NZ Samoan Woman Overcome Tears To Organise Help

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  • Fatima Sae, 41, is trying to help people in Samoa by gathering donations for a larger charity to send to her homeland.
    Fatima Sae, 41, is trying to help people in Samoa by gathering donations for a larger charity to send to her homeland.

A Samoan woman at Palmerston North New Zealand has dried up her tears and  put her hand up for her homeland facing a deadly measles epidemic.

Fatima Sae has family in Samoa but has refused to remain helpless and to take the lead in doing something to help .

Pain could be heard in her voice at the loss of life in Samoa as the death toll continues to rise with 72 deaths and 78 new cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

Among the 70 dead are two of her cousin's children, aged 1 and 3. The father remains in hospital with their last surviving child.

Sae, 41, who lives in Palmerston North, was scrolling through Facebook pictures of dead children, family burials and heartache when she decided to put aside her own grief to help others on the islands through theirs.

"Seeing the babies [dead], especially such an epidemic that could have been prevented or we could have done something earlier before it got so bad.

"I just wanted it to stop. When you see the pictures pop up you just can't help but cry, so I had to put myself in check."

Sae set out collecting money and homely resources to support families in Samoa who have experienced the worst life can throw at them.

Boxes of towels, blankets, nappies, cereals, sanitisers and more have poured in from schools, churches and the community, from the city and surrounding towns.

They are being collected by Mainfreight – for free – on Thursday to be shipped to Samoa from Auckland.

"It would be a struggle for some families to find the financial resources to be able to bury two children, or having to be isolated in hospital when the other half of your family is at home...

“If the dad is at home and has to look after the kids so he can't go to work, it has a domino effect on the rest of the family.

"I just wanted some way to be able to help them through their struggle and make it more comfortable for them.

"Especially those who feel helpless. It's given them some hope that we can help them, even if it's just a box of tissues, we don't care... We're sweet as long as they keep praying for us, for Samoa."

Such ideas had gained momentum across the country as social media highlighted the devastation Samoa was facing, Sae said.

Sae's measles appeal in Manawatū was sparked by the actions of ASA Foundation's volunteer Tuala Tagaloa Tusani, chairman for the New Zealand Samoa trade and investment commission.

The 42-year-old co-ordinated a national appeal from Auckland after attending one of the first funerals when the outbreak began.

More than 20,000 people in Samoa were vaccinated for measles over two days last week.

"You hear about it, but you don't really get it until you see it," Tagaloa Tusani said. "I just want to help those who have lost so much to bury their young ones well.

"Some of the impact hasn't been felt yet in terms of a survivor perspective, so the impact is going to be huge. Not only with the medical, but with the economic impact and psychological impact as well."

More than 20 coffins will be sent in the next shipment.

Larger companies have jumped on board to help move goods to Samoa as "there's no way I could have facilitated this on my own", he said.