Hawaii media talks to Am Samoans stranded abroad — and at home
Honolulu, HAWAII — Hawaii News Now (HNN) has interviewed some of the hundreds of American Samoans stranded in Hawaii and also have spoken with Epifania Rapozo, just before she and her two children were able to depart the territory after paying their own way on Monday's medical flight.
The Hawaii news site interviewed Brigitte Moala and her 85-year-old father, Noaese Taeatafa, who have been away from home since December when he had heart surgery in California. They’ve been staying with family on Oahu since June.
“Mentally I feel like losing it every day not being able to be home for my kids," Moala told HNN. “My husband, he’s trying his best to take care of the kids and take care of everything back home.”
“I’m very very depressed," added Taeatafa. “Iʻm not happy because I want to go back home.”
Moala says her father’s health has been declining since the travel ban.
And her children are struggling during her absence.
“The interests of the 60,000 residents on-island and protecting their lives outweighs the interest of the 600 or more residents stranded in the United States,” Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, executive Assistant to American Samoa Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga told news media including Samoa News, recently.
“As the governor has continuously pointed out, more healthcare facilities are available in Hawaii and mainland states that they can access if they contract the virus,” he added.
Moala, though, thinks the strong ban doesn’t make sense.
“We can’t understand why they they won’t repatriate us,” she said.
On Monday, more than 260 people — both medical patients and those stranded in American Samoa since a travel ban was put in place in March, left on a Hawaiian Airlines flight for Honolulu chartered by Medicaid.
Epifania Rapozo and her two children, who you read about in Monday's Samoa News were on the flight, according to HNN. “We are so excited. We cannot wait to get home,” Rapozo told HNN.