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Students back from Samoa

Makoura students hand over 57 backpacks to Campus of Hope in Samoa. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

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A group of Makoura students arrived back on Sunday after a trip to Samoa affected by the deadly measles outbreak.

Originally the group were going to help with renovations at the Campus of Hope, which is a refuge for abused children.

They were unable to, however, because of the quarantines relating to the measles outbreak which has already claimed more than 70 lives.

The students were still able to gift 57 backpacks filled with stationery donated by Doing a Good Deed founders Elaine Leggott and Marie Hutchby.

Deputy principal Kellas Bennett connected with some of the New Zealand medical team on the ground who informed him of the difficulties faced in remote areas where location, protocols and poverty meant that the death toll was probably higher than officially recorded.

Before leaving New Zealand all the Makoura students were immunised so they were not in danger.

Some of the students were originally from Samoa, or had family living there, so they were able to visit their relatives.

The group also spent two nights at the Tanu Beach fales [thatched huts] on the island of Savaii.

The effect the crisis has had on the economy due to tourists not coming had been devastating for many locals, Bennett said.“It’s quite humbling.”

Anyone who was immunised could still visit “an amazing destination”, he said.

Despite not being able to visit the Campus of Hope, the Makoura students were visited by Samoa Victims Support Group president Lina Chang [known as Mama Lina] who set up the refuge.

Bennett said the students were touched and moved by Chang’s speech and the stories she told about children from the refuge.

Some had already mentioned wanting to come back in the future to volunteer.

“It is unfortunate we couldn’t do what we wanted to do,” Bennett said.

“We still have unfinished business so hopefully can get back here next year.”

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