In November the Samoan government declared a national emergency in response to a measles epidemic. Over 5,000 Samoans have been infected and 79 people, mainly babies have lost their lives. The government and other agencies are vaccinating as many people as they can and providing medical care.
CWS has responded to a request for psychosocial support for the aiga or families who have lost loved ones and relief supplies. CWS has made an initial grant of $5,000 to our colleagues at the Family Centre who have sent up a staff member and a child and adolescent psychiatrist to assist. Another will follow on Sunday.
They immediately briefed staff from the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Unit at the hospital and are assisting them to respond to the deep need.
Family Centre Samoa staff are purchasing bedding and mattresses, nappies, wipes, towels, soap and vaseline for affected families as well as formula for mothers unable to provide breast milk because of stress for identified families. The need for such help will increase as planned family visits begin.
In the next few weeks, they will train 3 experienced psychosocial teams in community-based care. These local teams supported aiga following earlier natural disasters like the 2012 Cyclone Evan.
The team reports that many families need emotional support but also assistance to meet basic needs. Mothers are doing their best but have found it hard to feed and raise their children on minimal income. They cannot afford doctors or healthcare. The team plans to focus on people living in rural outlying areas who have not been reached by other support services.
Donations will pay for relief supplies and transport and other costs for team members to reach these communities.
This is a very traumatic time for the families and communities in Samoa. Please continue to pray for everyone affected.