American Samoa Day 1 !

After more than 24 hours of travel for most of the team, we arrived in Pago Pago, American Samoa and were greeted at the airport by Nick King, one of the founders of Alofa Mo Meaola (Love for Animals, our partner organizatasedit4ion on the ground.) We are being hosted by the Catholic Diocese who have graciously allowed us to stay in the accommodations on their property. They are feeding us (tons and tons!) and are some of the nicest people we’ve met!
After a good nights sleep, the team (including our local volunteers) gathered over breakfast for an orientation about the community from Nick and an orientation on AB procedures from Meredith and Dr. Amanda. Then we piled into trucks and headed to our clinic site, about 20 minutes away in the “town” area of Pago Pago (we are technically staying in Tafuna.)
The clinic site is great! We are set up on the stage under a pavilion, surrounded by gorgeous hillside villages and the harbor. We arrived at the site at about 10:15 and had the clinic built just after noon. Talk about efficiency! Each team quickly broke up and started unpacking supplies from all the luggage we carried in. Everyone collaborated really well about how each area should be laid out and where each area (prep, surgery, recovery) should be in order tasedit1o create an efficient flow and keep our patients safe.
As the finishing touches were being put on the clinic, Mona King (Nick’s wife and the other founder of Love for Animals) took the trapping team to a house just behind the clinic site that was home to a decent sized cat colony. The resident, a young woman with her two young children, was eager to get assistance controlling the cat population, as it had started to get a little bit out of control. Within minutes the traps were set and cats were being trapped. It didn’t take long to realize that the Samoan cats preferred fresh fish to the Friskies that they were first offered. Once the fish came out they practically walked into the traps. We’re pretty sure it won’t always be this easy, but it was a great first attempt at trapping and we managed to get 16 cats from this one house! Several more kittens were caught and will go into foster via Mona and friends to be spayed by the local vet when they are just a little bit bigger.
The team began working efficiently from the get go. We spayed/neutered 16 cats in just about 2 hours and were able to work the kinks out of the flow. Our official clinic start date is tomorrow, so we expect to hit the ground running!
We finished up with the last of the recovery and clinic clean up around 5:30 pm and gathered for our end of day recap meeting. As we were finishing up, the local mayor came out and called for evening prayers. Each night at 6pm the entire village has a curfew to gather in their homes, with their families, for evening praasedit8yers. It is not acceptable to be standing up or walking around during this time, so we all sat down on the pavilion and Dr. Sierra led us in some relaxing yoga postures as we listened to prayers being sung from the homes in the village just above us. It was a truly lovely way to end the first day.
Once the prayers were over (they typically last about 20 minutes) we headed back to our “dorms” where Nick and Mona had dinner waiting for us. The hospitality here is incredible…have I already said that?? Everyone crashed around 9 pm and as I sit in the church dining room writing this it’s about 5 am local time. Everyone is waking up (we’re not quite on island time yet). We can’t wait to see what the trapping team has waiting for us when we get to the pavilion!
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