Local legal aid commended for work with Gita victims
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Bar Association (ABA) has commended the American Samoa Legal Aid (ASLA) for its work in helping survivors of Tropical Storm Gita, which impacted the territory in February this year.
“The work of the ASLA has never been more needed and applauded,” wrote association president Robert M. Carlson in a Nov. 7th letter to ASLA executive director Fainu’ulelei L.P.F Ala’ilima-Utu, on behalf of the American Bar Association.
Carlson said he learned of ASLA’s “dedicated involvement” through the ABA Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services Program.
He points out that the “prominent role” of the ASLA in the disaster relief outreach enabled many in American Samoa to be educated on resources available to disaster survivors. Additionally, the ASLA has not only risen to the occasion but also gone that extra mile to provide the legal assistance to those most in need in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Gita.
“You have brought light and hope to your clients as they begin the process of rebuilding their lives,” he points out. “Your work makes you a role mode for others in the legal profession.”
In a brief statement on Wednesday this week, Ala’ilima-Utu explained that ASLA’s Gita disaster legal services program was a joint effort among ASLA, ABA Young Lawyers Division Disaster Legal Services, Pro Bono Net, Legal Services Corporation and other ASLA Partners.
On behalf of the ASLA board and management, he thanked ASLA’s staff for their hard work in assisting Gita victims with their direct appeals to the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the US Small Business Administration (SBA).
Furthermore, ASLA is grateful to the many stateside volunteer attorneys who ASLA and ABA referred FEMA and SBA appeals to for filing.
“We are humbled by the ABA President’s recognition and commendation of ASLA’s work, which I understand is being used as a model by another legal aid program in a U.S. territory,” he said.
In the aftermath of Gita, the ASLA and its partners provided free legal and recovery assistance to affected residents. It also held meetings and outreach to explain legal service available to help impacted residents.
Samoa News had heard from some residents impacted by the storm of the “excellent free legal service” provided by ASLA and its partners, that help residents make recovery efforts less painful to a family. (More info on ASLA on: www.aslegalaid.org)