Miss Samoa Alumni — Here to stay….
An idea brewed by the Samoa Cancer Society Board Member Vaitoa Toalupe with lifelong friend Manamea Apelu Schwalger, now the face of the Society’s Cancer Awareness Drive, the alumni has taken the country by whirlwind since its first informal get together in June.
Late last month, the Alumni was officially launched at the Orator Hotel with Deputy Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa accepting the invitation by the alumni to be their patron.
The event also was part of the Pinktober celebration in support of the Samoa Cancer Society’s public awareness drive for early detection to prevent breast cancer.
But most importantly, the night was dedicated to Manamea’s courage despite the late stages of her battle against breast cancer; she remains firm on her resolve to be the face of Pinktober to promote the Cancer Society’s mission.
“We live and we hope,” says the Deputy Prime Minister as the main speaker of the evening.
“We acknowledge the power of God and his power of healing.
“Let us all be messengers to preach and promote early detection for prevention is the cure,” appealed the Miss Samoa Alumni Patron.
And while pink fever is spreading like wild fire in the country, it has provided the platform for the Miss Samoa Alumni to reunite past Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific winners to stand together and support a humanitarian cause.
“It is just the beginning,” reiterated Manamea, a former Miss Samoa 2001-2002 at a press conference leading up to the Alumni’s Fund Run Saturday.
She was joined by former Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific Janine Tuivaiti and former Miss Samoa Sheree Natalie Elekana Lunjevich.
Added Janine, Miss Samoa 2012-2013, “The priority is working alongside the Samoa Cancer Society and advocating the ‘THE VAVE’ campaign.
“THE VAVE" campaign is where we encourage our people to get early detection because at the moment all of our people are being diagnosed as being in the edges of cancer,” continued Tuivaiti.
“We are trying to push this message to our country, not to be too late when they can be diagnosed and treated in the early stages of breast cancer.”
“Our main focus on bringing awareness so that we can get a conversation happening within our family within the communities to get early detection,” she said.
“The Miss Samoa Alumni is all about empowering our women. Not just women but they have also given so much support to the Samoa Cancer society and also to the people of Samoa,” added Sherry, Miss Samoa 2007-2008.
And while breast cancer is the Alumni’s priority this year, the three former beauty queens acknowledged that their group will look at other humanitarian platforms to serve Samoa in the coming years.
For instance, domestic violence victimizing women and young girls, noted Janine
But for the now, the message is about breast cancer prevention.
Since the former Miss Samoa joined forces with the Samoa Cancer Society and EMD in charge of events and marketing, the Pinktober message is turning a lot of heads with donations from the business community, individuals and even government and the most obvious is painting the war memorial clock in Apia pink.
The significance of the pink memorial town clock is a message from people with terminal disease that time is of the essence.
“It’s not time for Mana, God continues to shower his gracious love upon me and I have had so much time, I am ever so grateful.
“But time for those who are less fortunate, who battle cancer in silence, who have no access to conventional means like we privileged Samoans.
“Samoans with cancer who have not the voice like mine to tell their stories, to reach out,” says Manamea.
The Miss Samoa Alumni campaign to Paint Samoa Pink in partnership with Samoa Cancer Society and others in our private sector is focused on the VAVE campaign.
- To reduce the fear of cancer, to educate our people on the symptoms of cancer, to reach into communities who need these simple but lifesaving messages.
- To reduce late presenting of cancer up at hospitals. There are screening processes and equipment already place but lay idle.
With the Miss Samoa Alumni in their corner the Samoa Cancer Society’s profile has also skyrocketed.
And it will not be end for the Miss Samoa Alumni as they will be back to serve their country and those who need the expertise.
On 31st October, the Alumni will again unite to repaint the town clock to its majestic whiteness.
As the former Miss Samoa queens have been signing their “overarching goal is to empower young women to be whatever they want to be.”