BY Alan Ah Mu
APIA: THURSDAY 2 MAY 2013: When he reached breaking point while rowing over 400 kilometers in open water, anti-suicide campaigner Andy Warton asked for help.
“I asked for the help I needed and it gave me strength to continue,” said Warton, when he finally completed his 13-day trip at Apia Marina this afternoon.
At times, he said, he felt like quitting his quest to row around the islands of Samoa to raise funds for suicide awareness.
“The wind was against me, the surf was against me and at times even my kayak was against me – like when I lost my mast not once but twice out there.”
But he told himself that he was not alone out there, that he had “ a great support network that refused to give up on me: My wife Lyndall and daughter Abbey, the crew out on the water, the boat crew and the extended Kayak4Youth family.”
To the vulnerable youth he most wants to reach, Warton said:
“Asking for help when you need it does not make you weak.
“The courage it takes to ask makes you stronger.
“You cannot do everything by yourself all the time … it’s OK to ask for help.
“So please do so. There are people out here who will listen, who will give you the strength to choose life.”
An Australian Policeman assigned to work in Samoa for two years, Warton took on the 438 kilometre voyage to raise funds for anti-suicide organization, Fa’ataua Le Ola.
A friend of his took his own life so he knows the pain that comes from suicide.
To date he has raised $50 000.
“He has selflessly put his life on the line to get the message out there that no one, however hard it may seem at times, is truly alone,” said FLO Coordinator, Papali’i Carol Ah Chong.
“Life is full of challenges, perils and obstacles, but with courage, strength, faith, hope, resilience and love you can overcome anything,” Papali’i said.
“As Andy says, you may be by yourself but you are never alone,” she said.
There were days when Warton shed tears of frustration and was tired.
“It really hit home what it was he was doing for the cause we are fighting so hard for,” said Papali’i.
“Here was a man with courage, strength and grace, (who) has proven you can overcome anything life throws at you.”
Warton has achieved for FLO in 13 days what they could not do in several years, Papali’i said.
There is an awareness now that “we are an organization here to help people in distress, here to end suicide in Samoa; to help those with nowhere else to turn to choose life.”