News Story

Donated Equipment Helps Samoa Head of State Achieve Dream

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated state-of-the-art videoconferencing equipment to Samoa’s Oceania University of Medicine on 24 August 2012.


Pacific Area President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder James J. Hamula, presented the equipment to Samoa's Minister of Health, the Honourable Tuitama Talalelei Tuitama, and Dean of the university, LeMamea Lemalu Limbo Fiu.

The equipment will enable overseas medical experts to teach and train medical faculty and students in Samoa.

Speaking at the hand-over ceremony last week, Elder Hamula recounted that the Head of State of Samoa visited the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last year in Salt Lake City, Utah.  

"The Head of State visited the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center and our welfare operations, and with some of the senior Church leaders,” Elder Hamula said.  

"While he was in Utah," he continued, "the Head of State became ill.  One of the Church's doctors attended to his needs and helped him become well."  

"The Head of State greatly admired this doctor.  He considered the care and attention that was given to him to be angelic in nature.  Upon his return to Samoa, the Head of State reflected on what might be a lasting legacy of his visit to Utah for the people of Samoa."

Elder Hamula continued: "The thought came to him to inquire whether the Church might be able to assist the people of Samoa to be cared for by the same kind of angels that had attended to him in Utah."

"In other words, might the Church be able assist Samoa in developing its own doctors to provide the care and attention in Samoa that the Head of State had received in Utah?  This was the question that the Head of State asked me at his residence over a dinner at which the Minister of Health, the Oceania University of Medicine Dean, and others attended."  

Elder Hamula said he promised the Head of State that he would see what could be done.  

"I returned to my offices in New Zealand and gave a lot of thought to what we might do and talked to a lot of people about what the Church could do," he said.

"It was suggested to me that Dr. Michael Preece, a member of our Church with considerable experience around the world in helping assess the medical needs of developing countries, come to Samoa, assess the medical needs of the Samoan people and its new school of medicine, and identify how the Church might best help Samoa.  I agreed with this suggestion, as did the Dean."  

Earlier this year, Dr. Preece came with his wife to Samoa and spent six months at the OUM working with its faculty and students.  After a number of months, Dr. Preece came to Elder Hamula and suggested how the Church might best help OUM develop the doctors that Samoa needs, or the "angels of mercy" that the Head of State hoped for his people.  

Dr. Preece suggested that the Church make its expert medical practitioners available to the OUM faculty and students on a regular, ongoing basis through the use of video conferencing equipment to be purchased and donated by the Church.  

Elder Hamula says he thought this was a wonderful idea, and authorized the development of the project.  

He told attendees at the ceremony that "while the Church is giving to OUM and the people of Samoa valuable, state-of-the-art videoconferencing equipment, the real value of this project is the Church's assistance in making available to the OUM faculty and students the Church's members who are gifted and practiced medical experts."  

"The gift of incalculable value is the development of doctors who will become the angels of mercy that the Head of State envisioned who will bless the lives of countless Samoans in days to come."   

Elder Hamula said the equipment and the ensuing, ongoing training that will now be possible was a gift "with love and respect" to the Oceania University of Medicine and the people of Samoa, from "their brothers and sisters in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

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