13 Mar 2018

Call in Samoa for more support for deportees

3:41 pm on 13 March 2018

A Samoan deportee sent back from the United States found the transition tough, but with ongoing support he has been able to rebuild his life.

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Photo: hafakot/123RF

Vaaimalu Omar Benjamin Toilolo, who was deported to Samoa from the US a decade ago, found there was no help or resources.

His lobbying led to the establishment of the Returnees Charitable Trust in 2011.

Since its inception 144 deportees, mainly from New Zealand and the US, have been helped.

He said he intended to meet a group of US deportees due to arrive n Apia this week.

"It is always I guess a blessing to see other returnees on arrival come to the airport, and after being locked up and having waited so long you have your guards up and you are paranoid about what is going to happen and either you are handed off to officials or people in uniform and to me that is not a good start.

"So we like to do the meet and greet where we actually go to the airport and meet the individuals that are arriving and that way they can see that hey these guys have been in the same shoes as us and to let them know we are here for them and we can make things happen in the sense of support."

Vaaimalu Omar Benjamine Toilolo said the Trust needed more financial support.