The end of an emotional journey: Final repatriation flight for American Samoa to depart

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:08 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 26, 2021 at 5:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since a repatriation process started this February, nearly 2,000 American Samoan residents who were stranded in Hawaii and the mainland have gone home.

And roughly 200 people are on the final repatriation flight home, set to depart this Thursday.

American Samoa resident and mother of three children, Miriama Fasavalu, is now in quarantine in a Waikiki hotel and will be on the last repatriation flight home.

“I’m excited. I told myself I will never travel again,” said Fasavalu.

Like other stranded American Samoans, it’s been heartbreaking being separated from loved ones. Some haven’t seen family back home for the entire pandemic.

Fasavalu was scheduled to be on the first repatriation flight in February, but a positive COVID test even though she had no symptoms derailed those plans.

Now she’s ready to go home for good.

“It was really hard. It was a challenge for me to make it home, but I guess it wasn’t God’s timing,” said Fasavalu.

Le Fetuao Samoan Language Center on Oahu partnered with local businesses to donate gift bags, water, food, masks and other supplies to those quarantined in hotels.

“It feels really good to know that we successfully completed a really big operation,” said Elisapeta Alaimaleata, director and founder of the language center.

Because of rumors that American Samoa will end its travel quarantine next month, many on the repatriation list have dropped out.

But as the highly contagious delta variant spreads and vaccinations in the U.S. slow, Fasavalu says she got vaccinated and isn’t waiting to go home.

“To me, I was happy. I got the chance to be on this flight and come home because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Fasavalu.

“I just want to spend time with my kids, my family. It’s been going two years now. I haven’t been around my kids especially my little ones,” she added.

American Samoa has been COVID-free during the pandemic. Some residents say it’s time to open the borders now that there’s more education on mitigating the virus.

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