Letter to the Editor: A “very disappointed” Tracy Wilson

Date: 2009-03-29

Dear Editor - I am not a regular reader of the Samoa Observer because I have other things to do with my life, but I am frustrated, disappointed, saddened, appalled, disgusted, etc. with people who sit back and take pot shots without knowing what they are talking about because they like to see their names in print.

It seems to me that there are more detractors than there are supporters for this good man who has tried to do a lot more good for Samoa than most of us will take the time to perform or acknowledge. The concept of RISK and FREE ENTERPRISE must be explained and clarified before one can discuss any of these situations.

In response to the most recent reference to Dan Wakefield (19 March), get your facts straight. Dan Wakefield is not in the country nor has he been since 2006. He is not in jail in Utah nor has he ever been since the adoption investigation began back in 2005. When the FBI people went to Samoa, Dan opened his home and his files to them without any concern that he was under investigation. He was up front with them and did not try to hide any information from them.

He was not a part of Focus on Children when the little girl died back in 2005. Wakefield left FOC in 2004 when the owners of FOC refused to reimburse him for thousands of dollars which he spent out of his own pocket to feed, clothe and care for the children within his charge.

They hired a local who let things fall apart as stated by Sioka and Avea Nua in the January 2009 story quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune. “The girl’s parents ... said when Dan Wakefield – another defendant – was there Heta and three siblings sent with her were treated well. But in his absence, the Nuas said, children would go days without bathing and were sometimes beaten with brooms for asking for food.”

As Alan Ah Mu stated in his 10 March 2009 editorial, and Auseugaefa Tuvaifale Va’asatia Poloma Komiti reiterated, “No, Dan Wakefield is not a Samoan citizen.” But Dan is “credited” with bringing into the country thousands if not millions of tala with NO risk to the government, the customs of Samoa, or other people. Dan was trying to do for Samoa what many people are not willing to stick their necks out to do.

The youth correction programs cost no Samoan money and yet contributed to the “tourism” revenue. Even though it was deemed a failure by some, there is still one program operating on the island. It doesn’t cost Samoa anything but it does add to the economy.

The same was true of the adoption program. Of the 135 felony counts originally filed against FOC, all but one were dropped and it was downgraded to a misdemeanor. That should attest to the fallacious content of the charges. You will notice that few of the 80 birth parents have ever spoken out against the program because they listened to the Samoan lawyers who interviewed them and explained to them in Samoan the eventual outcome of the program. Their children “could” return to Samoa when they were 18 because then they are no longer minors (under age) and are free to travel with proper documentation and a ticket.

No one said they “would” return or that money would be sent to the birth parents. The children were not intentionally placed in “Mormon” homes, but since the home base of FOC was Utah, it stands to reason that many of the adoptive families would be adherents to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; therefore, many of them were placed in LDS homes. As far as the children being labeled “orphans,” one must find the definition of the word. In Samoa there are NO “orphans,” because Samoa takes care of her own except in rare cases where the parents look for a better life for their children. The US interpretation of orphan is ambiguous and lacks clarification.

Finally, the word “scam” which has been used excessively in this situation is a take-off on the media frenzy that US papers and TV stations use to increase their readership. What is the meaning of “scam?” According to the dictionary it is “a dishonest scheme, a fraud.” This again is to be found in the “eye of the beholder.” If one disagrees with something, or if they are unfamiliar with it, it can be termed a “scam” because of people’s ignorance or distrust. Obviously there were numerous parents and families who were very satisfied with the arrangement to have their children given an opportunity to improve their lives. How many Samoans have bettered their lives by moving to live with family or friends in the US or New Zealand? This is not only in athletics but also in academic studies and military.

Dan is not finished with Samoa because he has other ideas about how to help his friends and those he learned to love 50 years ago. He may yet back a “golden goose” up to the doors of the government buildings with a gas/oil exploration program to offer, which would cost Samoa NOTHING, and yet would benefit the country to the tune of millions and millions of tala.

Soifua, Another who loves Samoa and tries to help, Tracy Wilson

Ed’s Note: Sorry Tracy, but it seems as if you’re from a different world than the one we’re living in today.

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