12 January 2019, Apia Samoa. Family and friends gathered at the Toamua EFKS to farewell long serving nurse and former Manu Sina 7’s player Afatia Palaamo who had been battling cancer since 2009.
“Tia” as she is known to her family and friends passed away peacefully in her family home at Toamua in the early hours of Sunday morning 6th January 2019.
Afatia Palaamo graduated from nursing school 30 years ago in 1989 and straight away began her service as a nurse at the Motootua national hospital.
Minister of Communication and Information Technology Afamasaga Lepuiai Rico Tupai delivered a eulogy as the former Manu Sina Coach who had taken women’s rugby on their first ever tour to New Zealand in 1988 and then onto a successful Hong Kong 7s.
“Tia was like a mother figure to all the girls in the team. A leader who captained our Manu Sina Hong Kong 7s that made it to the semi finals of the Cup.”
Afamasaga paid tribute to Tia on behalf of the Manu Sina and outside the church service she was remembered by former Manu Sina players as a “tough, fearless player”.
Tia was the second eldest of 7 children and her elder sister recalled her fighting spirit as she gave her eulogy,
“She was like a boy who does all the family chores. She always put a smile on people’s faces for she was a happy and humble soul and that’s why she was loved by everyone who knows her.”
A role model and mentor to her nieces and nephews, Afatia was remembered by nephew Kawwa Leauma, himself a rugby player, with this online tribute,
“She was an amazing mother and a great aunty to us all. Thank you Tia for showing us the way. You were always welcoming and very generous beyond measure. The Toamua household will never be the same. God has gained another great angel.
Manuia lau malaga aunty Tia.”
Iataz Tui Palaamo wrote,
“Today we celebrated the life of our dear Aunty Tia, You were like a sister/mother we can share anything to. You always had time to listen and gave us guidance with lots of love and laughter.
Your smile, voice and unconditional love are forever imprinted in our minds”.
Tia’s cousin from her Cook Island family connection, Vaine A’aitui Fukofuka, told Samoa Global News that she was so glad Tia had made it to their family reunion held in Rarotong last year despite her illness.
“It was there that she inspired us especially our younger generation of her inner strength and determination to embrace life no matter what,” said Vaine.
She also posted:
“Today, we pause to remember you all today as you farewell our beloved and precious Sister and Aunty, Tia Palaamo. Although we are unable to be there in person, our hearts and thoughts honor and pay tribute to you today for the wonderful person you were and through your memory, will always continue to be. Thank you for your unconditional love to each one of us, our spouses, children and grandchildren. Rest In Peace our beautiful angel, till that glorious golden morning. Love you always beyond words can tell”.
Afatia Palaamo had told the story of her battle with cancer in an eye-opening interview with the Samoa Observer during Pinktober 2018 in the hope of sharing the important lesssons learnt from her experience with others especially women who don’t act soon enough when early signs of cancer are detected. You can read “It Started With One Small Lump” on: