‘Tis the Season for Greetings — to LBJ patients and TCF inmates
While many in American Samoa are spending the Holiday Season with their families and loved ones, LBJ Medical Center young patients and Territorial Correctional Facility inmates will only have limited time with their loved ones.
It was with this in mind that Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, First Lady Cynthia Moliga, Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, traditional leaders and cabinet members visited patients in the hospital and the inmates of TCF yesterday.
LBJ MEDICAL CENTER
The Lt. Governor first visited the hospital with the First Lady, accompanied by Chief of Staff, Fiu Johnny Saelua, directors and staff members. Lemanu commended the nurses for working during the holidays serving the patients.
“Are you guys with the morning shift? Lemanu asked one of the nurses at the Pediatric ward, and the nurse replied, “There is no such thing called the morning shift or afternoon shift Lemanu, because we all work 24-hour days, and we are all a part of the morning and evening shift.”
The First Lady passed out presents to the children in the Pediatric Ward, saying they were gifts from the American Samoa governor and the lt. governor. They also visited patients in other hospital wards, including the Medical, Surgical, Maternity, Pediatric, ER, Nursery and the Labor room.
Lemanu noted, “As Christmas is around the corner, we want to wish everyone a very merry Christmas today... Governor Lolo and I have decided to continue on with this annual project for us to visit the hospital, Hope House in Tafuna and those at the jail... the people who are unable to spend this special holiday with their families. Maybe our visit to them will bring them joy and happiness.”
A mother of one of the patients in the Surgical Ward thanked the governor and his Administration for taking their time to visit the sick and provide gifts for them.
“This is the true spirit of the holiday season, and for leaders of our government to come over here and visit our children, especially our love ones, is something that I will never forget. I thank Governor Lolo for his generosity and in showing the love for our people including my son,” she said.
TAEAOAFUA DR. MEKI SOLOMONA MOMENT OF SILENCE
During the visit to TCF, a moment of silence was offered in remembrance of Taeaoafua Dr. Meki Solomona, director of the Department of Human and Social Services, who passed away suddenly on Monday. The DHSS choir, who was a part of the TCF event, performed hymns for the church service and some Christmas carols for the audience.
Before he addressed the inmates during his brief remarks, the governor spoke about Taeaoafua’s service to the people and to his family. According to Lolo, before he left the island last month for a special meeting in the States, he told Lemanu not to sign Taeaoafua’s T.A.
Upon his return, he was really unhappy when he found out that Lemanu did signed Taeaoafua’s T.A. to attend a meeting in Hawai’i. He said he wanted Taeaoafua to stay home, because he was not feeling well at the time. Lolo said that he will miss Taeaoafua.
TERRITORIAL CORRECTIONAL FACILITY
A group of TCF inmates performing yesterday during the Governor’s annual visit to the Territorial Correctional Facility for this year’s holiday season. The inmates wished all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. [photo by AF]
Addressing the inmates, the governor said the youth are the future of any nation, and despite mistakes there is always hope.
“I see that there are a lot of young ones who are incarcerated and I’m certain they are missing their families on this holiday, which is why it’s important that we are here, to share the love and happiness.
“There is hope behind the walls and fences you are looking at,” he said.
The Administration brought lunch for all the inmates, including the women, those at the juvenile detention center and the mentally challenged inmates. The governor and his officials were greeted with ulas prepared by the women inmates.
The governor said that he was quite happy when he found out from the DPS Commissioner that there are less than 180 inmates at TCF. He said that when he heard this, two thoughts came to mind — it’s either there are a lot of inmates who have gone back home after they learned their lesson, or the judges are being too lenient.
(Samoa News should point out that TCF has been considered over crowded in past years, with inmate counts reaching 200+ or more.)
“While there are a lot of people who are criticizing us for coming here every year to visit you and bring food and presents for you, I would like for you to know that the reason we are continuing to do this is because we believe that you are also human beings and citizens of this country,” Lolo said.
Police Commissioner, Le’i Sonny Thompson then gave brief remarks, thanking everyone for showing their love and support towards the inmates, which included the DHSS choir for taking their time to perform for the inmates.
Le’i asked the inmates to please work together with DPS officials and leaders to make the prison a safe place for all of them.
In response, male inmates — in two separate groups — performed a Samoan siva. As one of the groups prepared to start their Samoan performance, in which the dancers had their heads down, while the music started — the audience clearly overheard one of the inmates say, “ka fia alu i le fale fa’amolemole” (I want to go home please) — which brought laughter from the crowd.
Lemanu told Samoa News during the visit that it’s always the governor’s wish that government leaders lead by example, by doing good deeds for others, such as visiting the hospital to share the joy of the holiday season with patients and visiting those who are in jail, who won’t be home with their families.
(Samoa News noticed up to forty police officers — some armed — present during the governor’s visit at TCF.)