Māori couple recount their life changing experiences in Samoa

By Tema Hemi

Husband and wife pastors of the Elim Christian Church in Porirua, Stacey and Hiraina Raika recently returned from Samoa. They set off on a spiritual mission to bring relief and inspiration to those worse affected by the measles outbreak that has claimed 81 lives. Even during the summer break the couple still do their best to support the less fortunate.

These two pastors believe whole heartedly that it is better to give than to receive. 

Stacey Raika says, "For me personally the experience was very emotional. We both felt the love from the people of Samoa. We saw the families that were burdened by the outbreak.” 

Wife Hiraina Raika says, "The whole experience in Samoa for me was life changing. In terms of the people I suppose the biggest affect that it had on me was their living conditions and how they actually continue to live in those conditions."

The Raika's say that their experience in Samoa had such a profound effect on them both. And has given both a new outlook on life. 

Hiraina says, "I suppose it was hard for them to navigate through the losses and the devastation that disease actually caused in the villages. Seeing a lot of that with the families that suffered loss and losing two or three children."

There hasn't been any recorded deaths in Samoa in the past five days. It provides much reprieve for the many families still coming to terms with the loss of loved ones. 

The couple say that the living conditions and poverty issues were of grave concern and an appreciation for the basics like clean running water.

Hiraina says, "I tell you what, for a people that don't have a lot they have everything they need in their heart in terms of their faith. So yeah that to me portrayed a lot of how the people actually endure through the conditions they live through." 

Stacey adds, "Although they may not have much food or whatever else, their faith is strong, they have so much love. The hospitality was great despite what was going on over there, my heart is happy that we had such an opportunity."

The couple have planned to return to Samoa in July where they will continue to offer their support to Samoa's struggling communities.