Tagata Pasifika The Pacific voice on New Zealand television since 1987

Lorenzo Kaisara protecting his community through gagana Samoa

As we head into the 2021 edition of Samoa Language Week, we catch up with health worker and radio host Lorenzo Kaisara, who has been using gagana Samoa to keep his community updated about Covid-19 vaccinations.

By Anauli Karima Fai’ai

Lorenzo Kaisara is no stranger to being behind the microphone, but there’s nothing he enjoys more than lending a helping hand.

“I believe any opportunity to help our people and to support them is very rewarding,” he says.

Lorenzo is a community liaison manager for Total Healthcare and Local Doctors; going out into the community to share health messages with people face-to-face.

On top of that, he also works at Pacific Media Network as a radio producer for the Samoa Language show on Radio 531pi, which broadcasts on Thursdays and Sundays.

“My two jobs are very closely connected.”

“My work in health goes hand in hand with my role as a broadcaster.”

Over the last year he’s been able to carry his health work into the media realm by broadcasting messages about Covid-19, making sure everyone has access to the latest information.

“It’s important because many Pacific people did not have a lot of information about Covid-19. So PMN Samoa was one of the ways in which people kept up to date about what was happening – especially the Samoan people – to learn more about Covid-19.”

And while the Samoan team at Pacific Media Network may be small (comprising just four members), their impact has been crucial in using gagana Samoa to communicate important updates.

Tofilau Nina Kirifi-Alai has worked in the world of tertiary education for the past two decades and joined the PMN Samoa team earlier this year.

“It’s important to use our own language so that our people can comprehend what is going on. Most of us don’t understand the medical jargon, because we’re not doctors,” she says.

She says it’s been a necessary platform for reaching out to those in the community who struggle to understand English.

“If it wasn’t for radio, people would be in the dark, having no other way of knowing this information.”

For Lorenzo, however, communicating Covid-19 messages did not come without its challenges.

“It was difficult for us to translate the messages from English and to find the correct Samoan words, especially for the medical jargon.”

Next up is Covid vaccinations and reassuring communities about the contentious Pfizer vaccine.

Whether it be on radio or out in the community, Lorenzo is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to keep his community safe.

“My job is to find the help and support that they need.”

“It’s not about money or recognition but it’s always an opportunity for me to use my talents to help others.”

#SamoanLanguageWeek

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