Samoans return home

Samoa is preparing for the arrival this week of a chartered US flight carrying a number of convicted felons being deported from the US.

The director of the Samoa Returnees Charitable Trust said it aimed to help the deportees reintegrate into society.

Since the NGO was set up in 2011, a total of 144 deportees have been helped, mostly from New Zealand and the US.

Faafetai Koria said most had been convicted of sexual offending and assaults and were unfamiliar with Samoan culture and protocols.

He said the trust’s mandate was to help them find jobs and try to reduce the stigma of being a convict.

“The roles of looking for money and being breadwinners is transferred to mothers or children or other members of the family,” he said.

“The second challenge is the barriers created by stigma, and social isolation.

“A lot of these returnees find that they were not brought up in the social networks that Samoa provides and so they have no cultural bearings, they find it difficult to communicate because the language isn’t strong, and so they become isolated and separated,” he said.

Mr Koria said before Samoa accepted the deportees, they had to reach meet certain criteria and prove they had family support in Samoa.