Grief-stricken mother reveals heartache of losing daughter to measles as crisis shakes Samoa

A family in Samoa, who recently buried two children, have spoken of their grief as they urge parents to get their children vaccinated against measles.

Samoa's death toll rose to 55 on Tuesday. Despite almost all of the victims being under four years old, vaccination rates remain stubbornly low.

Elsie Lolesio's only daughter, 18-month-old Noel, is one of the young victims of Samoa's measles crisis.

"It's very hard to lose a child," Lolesio told Newshub.

"She's gone and I will never forget her... the way I tried to teach her how to talk."

The anguish is inexplicable and all-consuming for the 19-year-old new mother.

"We have a lot of dreams that we need to fulfil for our little ones... but once they are lost, we don't know what to do... and we don't know how to accept it," she says.

Lolesio's little girl was buried in the same grave as her one-year-old nephew, Fatau'u Junior. 

The infants died from the illness just three days apart. Now, Lolesio is urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

"My only message for the young mothers and young couples, they need to look after and take care of their little ones," she says.

For Lolesio, facing life without her daughter Noel is hard to bear but her future holds hope. 

She confirmed to Newshub that she is pregnant and due to give birth in February.

It will be a little girl - and her name will be Noel. 

On Tuesday, Lolesio and her family were visited by volunteers from Samoa's Victim Support.

The contribution from this group is critical. Their main purpose is to check on the wellbeing of families who have lost loved ones and to offer donations of food and clothing. 

Samoa's Victim Support president, Lina Chang, is well known for giving up her time to help others.

"It would be nice for our people to witness what is happening here. This is real life. This is what we face every day," she told Newshub.

Samoa's government has made it compulsory for everyone up to 60 years of age to get the vaccine. 

The government will close on Thursday and Friday this week so all its staff can assist with the nationwide vaccination campaign. 

Last year, two children died after nurses incorrectly prepared the MMR vaccine. The vaccination programme was suspended for months, leading to a significant decline in public trust in the health system.

If you’d like to help support the work of Samoa Victim Support Group, please visit the SVSG Givealittle page.

Or, you can transfer donations to the following account:

Bank Account details:

Bank-ANZ Bank (Samoa) Limited

G.P.O Box L1855

Apia, Samoa

Account name: Samoa Victim support Group 

Account no: 3451155

Routing No: BSB010979

Swift Code: ANZBWSWW

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