Tuesday, May 23, 2006

When will we ever learn?

On the news tonight, another young Samoan woman has gone to extreme measures.
This time, she gave birth, disposed of the new born in a cold winter garden,
Outside her Halls of Residence.
While she suffered from internal bleeding.

She was one of the gifted few,
Who won an academic scholarship to study at the University of Otago
Which is well known for its successful Pacific Mentoring Programme.

Questions are now being asked,
Many questions indeed.

I have my own questions.

Where are her friends?

Where is her sperm-donor?
Why did she do it?


I can't imagine the pressure she felt, knowing she is carrying, but also knowing the high expectations from her family, friends, church and GOvernment.
I feel so sorry for this poor girl.

Someone will hate me for saying this(and frankly i don't give two shites) but the parents, the church, the friends, the Scholarship Committee should all take a piece of the blame.

And I too take the blame.

Because we as a community are quick to praise the good, but ignore the real issues at hand.

Every day, someone is suffering, and theyre that person you snubbed on the street, the friend you forgot to call, the child you slapped on the face because she dirtied her pink shoes.

The bottom line is, we are not the tight knit community we brag so loudly of.

There's holes, gaps and tears that drag us all downhill, theres abandoned children, battered wives, depressed faafafines and frustrated old men.

For scholarship students, the pressure is 3D times infinity because they have been heaved the expectations of success. Deliver or be disgraced.

But they should know that the weight is not their own to carry.

I.e: * momma should have talked to her about contraception, instead of assuming she's a virgin until marriage.

*The partner should have had protection

*The Government should have a set Action Plan to deals with these matters.

Back in my days of Noah, James Waterhouse used to cruise by Uni, ask us how were doing, and then off on his merry way. Brief but reassuring.

I queried about this back in 2002 when I was on the verge of incompleting my papers because i was lazy, skipping classes, laid back and simply not prioritising my work.

I suggested then that perhaps there should be a monitoring system for Samoan scholarship students.

Towards the end of my degree, Tasha Shon was working at the Samoan Embassy.
She wrote us all a letter saying she's there if we need help, yadayadayada, and then silence.

It seems like the Government knows that the problem is there but are not keen to solve it.


Well, what would it be? The peanuts for a consultant or the thousands wasted when students fail and get charged with manslaughter?

There needs to be a stronger support network/system for Samoan students studying abroad.

We mustn't forget that these students come from Samoa (Savaii included, yay!).

Where there are no secrets, no privacy, no downtime, everybody is everybody's business.

At home, you are surrounded by nagging relations.

At school, you are spoon fed and disciplined by teachers who are not afraid to whack your fingertips with the wood duster.

You are constantly supervised, controlled, interfered with and involved.

Then you get the scholarship, and all of a sudden, you are....




That very change has lead to the demise of many, I am no exception.

On my first year, I was so overwhelmed by the 'life', of freedom, no parents, no uncles, no aunties, no teachers, no church, no "discipline".

I had a ball, (balls actually), drank like a fish (still do actually, shet), partied like madness, and best of all, the Government of Samoa financed our lifestyle.

Every two weeks, we queu up to the ATM, and become one day millionaires, while our poor families pray and praise their intelligent child who is studying hard overseas.

The reality hit hard, when I failed my first batch of assignments, and then the next, and then I got on the phone and cried to my mommy like a whinny 5 year old.
She said to me:

"Missie, You did not pray enough"

The bottom line is: These students need help, NOW.


supasta said...

OH shet..how tragic...
the poor gurl...how sad..
but i feel for the baby the most...i think people who do the disposing babies and crap are farken stupid..sheesh..who cares about wat ur momma and papa and the whole world say..jst get your baby and move on wit life...OR you can give the baby for me...*tears*

AMEN to the 'community are quick to praise the good, but ignore the real issues at hand' there is alot of that going on here in our so called beluffed Homeland..and mi dad is one of them pipols..yes i aint really broud to say he's one of the old fashion ones as we kol them..lol

i remember after my first semester at UPY,scored a scholarship to FIJI and dad told me i aint going there coz its too corrupted and watnot and i'll get worse there or watever..Come last semester i scored one to Otago and dad arranged with the scholarship committee so that i could stay wit my family down thea instead of the residence halls..ha! reason being, he dont want me to get pregnant or do anything of the sort dat will give the family a bad name..and if i did...den..THATS IT...HE'S GONNA DISOWN ME..(like dats gonna stob jen)

anyways, neva wanted to be with family, I want my freedom, sooo, instead of going to Otago..i fixed all my stuff to go to Hawaii and told my dad the day i was gonna leave..yes nobody knew apart from my best frends..
3 years lata..jen is still alive and habby..nothing tragic's happened..and waaalaaa...im still living life and being a good gurl..and definitely not pregnant(my dad;s worst fear)..lol...

the thing is..our community needs to stob being so damn prideful and wake up to reality, understand that time changes and people grow up and stob thinking that everything and everyone is their business and stob bugging and trying to control people's lives...
and if anything habbens...'DISOWNING and DISGRACE AND CALLING NAMES' aint the answer..gosh..ever heard of FORGIVENESS..harharhar..soia laia..gotta do some work..

ciao ciao

Peachy.. said...

You speak volumes on the experience of many students. I for one can relate all to well to the pressures of being of-island and on a scholorship. I guess that's the main reason why 4 of us girlfriends all applied to the same College and stuck together when we left Samoa. Such a foreign experience to be labled, to be looked at as not being the majority in a big school.. And yes, oh how we did not know how to handle all the free time to drink, party, not go to class etc... E sao lelei lava oe.. There needs to be a strong network system in place of mentors at the schools or families in the area for students to have some semblance of home life. I know I wanted to go home once I saw nothing but pastures and cows.. Ia, let me stop, I'm conjuring up repressed memories that I rather not think about...Soifua

fotu of samoa said...

I have little to add as I think your words speak of the experience of many of us that were lucky enough to get through it be it with scars (and drinking habits) to show. I concur!

This is such a sad story. It makes me angry and disappointed but mostly just sad. Kalofae i sia keigeikiki.

Too true are your words about coming through the sheltered disciplined education system we have here and then dropped out the deep end once on Scholarship.

To me perhaps the most pertinent question is: O fea ana uo? I mean, systems and governments and mentors aside - friends should be there regardless.


Shark Girl said...

Well I am a perfect example of the sheltered life and then falling off the deep end, as you put it. Lol. And you should all know that. At least you got past it and finished. I on the other hand, didn't have a mother or an aunty who was best friends with Ono or Fiame, or had money enough to buy their silence like some people I know of. I came home. Lol.

Dok said...

Hey Fotu!!
I have been following your blogs with much interest ( as my life here is very boring!) HAfta say agree with everyone else - tragic is the only way to describe what happened to this gal. I dont think anyone can blame her for what she did, as wrong as it was...some women just go into shock during a delivery, and she probably felt the physical and the emotional side of it and just didnt know what to do. I agree that the scholarship committee need to do more in terms of monitoring the scolarship students- indeed my own experience was one 1 year only with Mr Waterhouse ( which i hafta say was fantastic...he always reminded me that i dont need to get suicidal when i failed a paper but get a tutor, that my family were all praying for me but not to let that deter me from going out everyonce in a while...he always managed to put things into prespective) but he left after a year...and then there were several following years of silence, forgotten promises and contracts...and yes it was a struggle. the reality is though that this event is not foreign to us and it is almost and everyother day thing back home...and it is a behaviour that surely stems from our cultural, family and religious ridiculous expectations...I think our youth of today need to voice these concerns more back home to get our pepole aware that there is no such thing as a perfect human being....and remind people that even back in the days ( of our parents) people were having sex at 17 ( i have several 'older relatives' who had their first babies at this age...only diferrence was they werent on scholarship and had gunshot weddings!! thats all for now
take care

Goddess of Savaii said...

haha, sao lelei oe gikia,,,,me neither, coz Ono wasn't my cousin brada...but hey, look where you ended up....standing the gorner at hiroshima and downing sake like a weatherd geisha.

Jen, e sa'o lava le akugalu o si au sto'e i eo. kukusa lava oukou ma gikia ma foku, ova le lauasa...kuli aku i le aoga ae o koncha faasolador hehehe (look whose sbeaking)!
nah, just geeding.

Its surely a real big problem, and so i am now going to write to Uncle Toomata, Aunty Ono, Cousin Tupae Esera and Uncle Tuilaepa to make me the contact berson for the New Zealand scholars....
oki laia ua serial a'u kala...

dasifi said...

This is another tragic example of someone falling thru the system because there was no real support nextwork to start off with.

Could this have been prevented perhaps? Maybe not the getting pregnant part but if were there some sort of support center available to this poor child, her and her baby would not have come to such a sad end.

Our culture plays a big part in this tragedy like you have mentioned Fotu. People easily forget that even though you have been fortunate to procure an overseas scholarship you do not automatically cease to be a young person and become as wise as Solomon was reputed to be.

Our culture & society still needs to learn how to communicate.It has learned how to gossip well but heart to heart talks between parents and their children are still at the infant level. There are those fortunate families where this is not a problem but most are at that place where the chilren just listen while the parents do all the talking.

Most of us have heard the "aua e ke faia se mea e kauvalea ai lou aiga, ma makaga ai ou makua" rap.

I mean its hard enuff trying to get a passing grade without being weighed down by the burden of possibly bringing shame to your aiga should you fail but lo and behold should u get pregnant its like the world has come to an end.

I reiterate Jenz sentiment where is the forgiveness? We so proudly display the fact that 99% of Samoa's population is Christian but once someone gets pregnant out of wedlock "all them lovely qualities are out the window".

The Da Vinci code is banned in Samoa, our church and govt leaders were quick to rally to defend the Christian Faith. Who was there to defend this girl? Help her out in her time of need?

The societal pressure on one already in a difficult condition can be too overwhelming.
Feeling alone, scared and ashamed she was forced to do something she knew was wrong. But there was no one around to keep her from crossing that line from falling over.

There was no lifeline available
It's all too easy to make the wrong choice when we believe there is no way out. That we can't go back.

This poor girl in some way will always be traumatized by this event. How can we make sure that this does not happen to another of our " gifted students"

Our government : must put into action a contingency plan to counter act this problem. Set up a Help Center or some sort of mechanism that will help our students cope with University life.
A solid, dependable network that guarantess confidentiality.

Our church leaders : Need to be more sensitive and not threaten the already scared students with talk of hellfire and the likes.

Our parents: need to ease up on the expectation part(good luck with that..lol) be more understanding and accepting. Love us unconditionally (pleassseee!)

Our friends: To please continue standing by us through thick n thin. To lend a compassionate ear when needed, loving arms to enfold us in tender hugs and sturdy shoulders to cry on. (oh n money to buy ice cream lots of it!)

Us : We need to forgive ourselves for what we can not undo, seek help its not always easy but ask for it. To remember that no matter how bad things get they can and will get better coz when u are down there is no other way to go but back up.

Goddess of Savaii said...

oh well, as youre saying,(and i totally agree) there's always the need for the support/network in place, family friends, etc...that is such a blessing when youre away from home and in a foreign place.
dok, yeah man,..i got worried when they told me about james waterhouse, but then he came round and boy, he was cool...sa'o lelei oe...makuai put into perspective lava e le kamaloa aka trivial issues., and even his brief visit was reassuring...

Our beloved country and especially the leaders should come to accept that Samoa is changing with the times, and culture shouldn't be the scapegoat in all this.
Remember, it's the people that make the culture work.
We need wake up, face the music and smell the koko samoa...we're in deep shite, thats for sure...something must be done.

I'll keep you posted.

dasifi said...

Yes, we all have a part to play. We are the people that make up our culture and our culture has been fashioned in part by our upbringing and values, influenced by our level of education and status, molded by our beliefs and colored by our preferences and so forth. How do fix this prob?
..by not leaving those who seemed to have broken tradition etc etc out in da cold.
A culture that cuts off its members is one that will not fully realize its potential. We are only as strong as our weakest link someone said.
A lesson for all of us>> Look out for one another should society (govt/church/family) fall short of providing a safety net to have at least one true friend you can count on in times of trouble means more than a whole office full of people who think you have just wasted government funding.
Sei fai se mea aoga (at least try to ..lol) se Fotu u raise such thought provoking issues. Fa laia

tel said...

Damn, read this yesterday morning before work and was just so taken aback.
I agree with everyone with regards to support networks, and our culture and the way it is quick to judge and skim the surface of many issues which they would rather not deal with properly, but I also believe that society should not just focus on the prevention side (which isn't always "fool" proof), but should also help our youth deal with the reality of it all.
I mean, the young girl carried her baby to full term and then decides she doesn't want to have any of it by dumping the poor baby...either she was suffering from baby blues, or post natal depression or just simply couldn't bare the "shame" she would have to carry. But being pregnant and giving birth should not be something we should be ashamed of...and I know I may be biased here as I am carrying myself, but what I am trying to say is that our society instead of being understanding and realistic, expecting every teine to be Virgin MAry-like, which I think is just total hypocrisy in itself, should not only be open to preventative measures, but help us embrace our mistakes, accept our responsibility, but without leaving us feeling like the world is going to end because of what we have done.
In the end, family plays a big part in how we see the world, as much as the people whom we surround ourselves with. We need to encourage in our families the ability to confront issues before they become major, but also be able to support and nurture their son or daughter in time of need.
I guess another issue is miscommunication and perception. I know of a few people who went and did things a certain way because they were afraid to face their parents, but in the end, their parents were a lot more supportive than what that friend had thought. Too bad though the friend left it a little late, but in the end, they have to live with the decisions they have made and though life can be hard at times, they know they have support and have formed a stronger relationship.
I don't know, I don't know if I am making sense.
To be honest I don't understand how someone can go through with carrying a baby for that long only to dump it shortly after. They obviously had to have very strong conviction of whatever it is they were thinking to do such a thing. But who knows what was going through that girls mind? Who knows what her real motivation for giving the baby up in that way were? I am sure there is a lot of speculation though, specualtion that won't do anyone any good, especially the young woman involved.
I hope whoever she is, will get the support she needs. I hope that this will not be the beginning of a trend, but more of a wake up call for our society back home instead of a mere topic to gossip about.
Hmm..my thoughts are all over the place with this issue Fotu, you have surely raised some serious issues which need be addressed - and not by pouring money into workshops held by self righteous hypocrites either.
So sad for the young woman, so sad for the baby, especially in this day and age when you would think it wouldn't happen, would you????

Goddess of Savaii said...

Police talk to student after baby found dead

Monday May 22, 2006
By Sarah Sidey

Dunedin police are investigating the death of a newborn baby girl discovered wrapped in a plastic bag in the grounds of a student hall of residence.

Dunedin Hospital staff alerted police after a 20-year-old woman was admitted about 2.30pm on Saturday with severe internal bleeding.

Five police searched the University of Otago hostel and found the body in the garden about 11pm.

It has been established the Studholme Hall student, who was from overseas, gave birth early on Saturday.

"We understand the baby was born in the bathroom at the residence. We have not spoken to the young girl yet so I'm unable to confirm that," Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Wakelin said last night.

The second-year student's pregnancy was full-term or close to full-term, he said.

An autopsy on the baby was carried out yesterday afternoon.

Police spoke to the student briefly yesterday afternoon. They planned to speak to her again today, said Mr Wakelin.

Hospital staff were initially concerned for the student's safety because of the amount of blood she had lost but her physical condition has now stabilised.

"My understanding is she received a lot of help from students at the hall after the baby was born in relation to her health and wellbeing, but that no one knew she was pregnant prior to having the baby," Mr Wakelin said.

Support staff, including a student health representative and university chaplain Greg Hughson, were at the hall to help students deal with the incident.

Studholme Hall head of college Sagato (Ziggy) Lesa told TV One last night that staff and students were very distressed.

"Our hearts go out to her and her family."

University spokeswoman Jill Rutherford said the student's family, who lived overseas, had been contacted and the woman's mother was expected to arrive today.

"It's just tragic ... Our concern is very much for the other students in the hall and the young woman involved. She's still in hospital. The head of Studholme went to see her and other support people from the university, including a lawyer, who was present when police came to speak to her," Ms Rutherford said.

The student's immediate friends, including those who took her to hospital when they became concerned about her health, were receiving counselling, she said.

A meeting took place at Studholme Hall at 5pm yesterday to inform students about the situation and the services available to help them deal with the incident.

The baby's mother was in a stable condition in hospital last night and would remain there today, Mr Wakelin said.

He did not know whether extra security had been put in place at the hospital but said police did not have any concerns for her safety.

Investigations into the baby's death, including how she came to be placed in the garden, would continue today, he said. It was too early to say if charges would be laid.


Goddess of Savaii said...

From Newstalk ZB:

Mother hears manslaughter charge
23/05/2006 17:04:02

A Samoan woman charged with the manslaughter of her baby daughter has appeared in court in Dunedin. The 20-year-old Otago University student had a large group of family and friends supporting her.

The woman was granted name suppression and bail with the support of police after being charged with failing to supply her baby with the necessaries of life.

The baby's body was discovered wrapped in a bag in a garden at the Studholme hall of residence on the weekend.

The mother had earlier been admitted to hospital with severe internal bleeding from the birth. Her next appearance will be on June 20 after she has undergone a psychiatric assessment.

Otago University says it is deeply saddened at the tragic situation that has led police to charge the student.

Director of Student Services David Richardson says the student's hall of residence has arranged legal counsel for her and the University's Pacific Islands Centre is also supporting the student and her family.

Mr Richardson is expressing gratitude to the police for handling the inquiry in a sensitive manner. He says their thoughts are with the woman and her family during this very tragic situation. He says the University is providing counseling and support to those affected by the case.

Related Stories

Advice available for pregnant women
23/05/2006 8:08:02

Pregnant women told there is always a place to turn for advice about pregnancy

Read More

University baby case "not black and white"
23/05/2006 5:12:03

Police seek legal opinion about charging student whose dead baby was found on University grounds.

Peachy.. said...

Wow, where were these supporters/friends/family members ?? Coming out of the woodworks now is a bit late, but nonetheless she needs them..I wish she could have talked to someone. Talofa e si teine, ia tatou tatalo mo ia ( I know Fotu-I'm sounding like your Mom huh???)..

Goddess of Savaii said...

e leai, o na e sa'o oe, poo fea si ona aiga ma ana uo...ana lava le mafutaga ma le communication ma uo ma aiga penei o ola manuia si ana tama, ae toe foi o ia i le aoga.

ae sa'o oe,...pau le mea o le tatalo ma e faalatalata lava oe ia (ma a'u, ma tatou uma!!)i au uo ma aiga ma fanau...ua tatau lava ona accept e matua ua tele suiga o le olaga, ua tatau foi ona mafai ona talatalanoa faatatau i mataupu e pei o le faiusuga, tamaloloa ma mea o loo feoai ma latou, o ma'i e ono maua mai i le faaeteete, o le tausisi i lau paaga e tasi, ma isi mea faapena.
A mafai ona maua le saolotoga e talanoa ai le tina, tama ma le fanau i soo se mataupu, o ina tonu lava e iloa ai le mafana o le aiga.
Amene ma amene, se'i fai sau galuega!!!
manuia le aso!

salty said...

sad story, but I enjoy your writing. It informs and entertains me.

Keep it up!

Matt (salty)

t!@ said...

Amene ma sooga amene aku ai pea i ga mea uma!hahaha.

Great post! Very interesting and highly stimulating discussions as well of the issues at hand. If only our government, local communities, and the family unit itself would wake up and realise how vulnerable their children are to things like this if the right support and encouragement is not in place; that old ideas and high expectations are not the right way to raise and nurture the young minds of today! Oka, ka'i tough! So much conviction!heh.

Anyhow, let us hope that this situation will trigger some kind of action by the scholarship committee and the rest of Samoa to ensure that it doesn't happen to another student studying abroad.

Se malo le post!hehe. Keep 'em coming! I was loyke it a lod..