On December 18th & 19th 2013, 350 Pacific in partnership with Samoa Victim Support (SVSG) Juniors, held the Pacific Climate Warriors training for Samoa. The training was attended by 30 young people from the Islands of Upolu and Savaii and 5 representatives from American Samoa. The training was held at the Samoa governments’ Fale Samoa in central Apia – a beautiful venue provided for the event by the government of Samoa.
On the morning of Day One, the training was formally opened by Honorable Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi (pictured) who spoke of the importance of addressing climate change as it is an issue that is affecting not only Samoa but all of the Pacific. He wished the participants well for the two days and apologized that he was not able to stay long due to other commitments.
His welcome was followed by a blessing from Pastor Samoa Unoi of Peace Chapel who reminded participants that as a people of faith, from a nation whose motto is “Samoa is founded on God”, we must keep God at the centre of our work. Papali’i from SVSG also addressed participants welcoming them and thanking them for coming to be a part of this programme and the beginning of our working relationship in building awareness for village communities throughout Samoa. The entire welcome and opening speeches was televised later that day on the evening news!
With formalities out of the way, we had one more small presentation before we got underway – 2 short video tributes to Nelson Mandela. We wanted the spirit and example of Mandela to be guiding force for our training – and we believe it was! We followed this by discussing what we hoped to achieve by the end of the two days – that it would be an open space to learn, share ideas and shape those ideas in to goals that we could achieve for the 350 Pacific climate movement in Samoa. There was a good mix of people who were new to climate change and those who had a lot to share about it. This was very beneficial for groups activities and discussions as was a good mix of local and global knowledge in the room. And that was what Day 1 was about – sharing knowledge and ensuring everyone was fully aware of the challenges facing the Pacific Islands due to climate change. We promised that Day 2 would be very different and open us up to what can be done!
Day 2 of the training started with us singing the Samoa national anthem as the Police brass band played and raised the flag in front of the government building next door to our venue. We kicked off the day by having presentations from Brianna Fruean, SVSG and American Samoa. It was great to hear about all of their inspiring work. After a short break, we got ready to tackle THE PLAN.
Discussing the 350 Pacific plan for the next 10 months was intense. There was shock, surprise, nervousness and even a little fear – but overwhelmingly there was excitement! There was belief in the urgency of our work and while The Plan seemed ambitious and very “outside-the-box”, there was a strong conviction that if we work together – standing shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters throughout the Pacific Islands – we CAN and WILL make a difference for Samoa and the Pacific Islands!
The afternoon was spent formulating action plans for Samoa. Everyone chose an area of work they were keen to focus on and worked on how we would implement those plans in Samoa. When groups gave feedback on their plans, it was truly inspiring. We ended the day making a video which we look forward to sharing with you all soon.
On behalf of 350 Samoa, we wish all the Pacific Islands who are planning their Warrior training in the coming weeks all the best and that Samoa is ready to support you as we STAND UP FOR THE PACIFIC IN 2014!