American Samoa – Hitting the Ground Sprinting

Josh Madfis, child protection specialist, Save the Children Samoa 

Oct. 4, 2009 – Leone, American Samoa

I arrived in American Samoa three nights ago.  I hit the ground sprinting.  My first goal was to see children affected by this disaster.  I wanted to learn from them and from the parents how they were doing.  The first thing I did Friday morning was visit a shelter in the village of Leone.  Leone was one of the hardest hit villages. The damage there reminded of what I saw in Hurricane Katrina; foundations where homes used to be, mountains of rubble and debris, churches with gaping holes. 

I was immediately moved by warmth of the Samoan people.  They are so kind and open to strangers.  They communicated their fears and worries about their children’s health, well being and future.  The kids were all over the map.  Some jazzed up by being displaced and in shelters, some sick and coughing, some withdrawn and depressed.  There will be a need to address the traumatic events many experienced.  They also needed safe places to play.  Shelters in many cases are in the center of the destruction.  They are surrounded by dangerous debris, broken glass and toxic waste.  Children have little to no clothes and shoes.  I played soccer yesterday with an 8-year-old boy wearing his dad’s old sneakers.  He did pretty well despite this!

I am working to get Child Friendly Spaces established in all the shelters and the FEMA disaster recovery center.  I would also like to get health messages to kids about where it’s safe to play and how to wash and keep their hands clean.

More to come!

Learn more about Save the Children's response in American Samoa

Leave a Reply