PHOTO: Students of Vaiala Beach with placards carrying their environmental messages duing last Fridays global protest against climate change inaction
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 18 MARCH 2019: For 12 year old Isabella Meredith, joining the students’ global protest against climate change inaction, will not stop there.
“We will create a video with our environment message and send to the Prime Minister and Parliament, and through that video, our voices will be heard,” said the Vaiala Beach School student.
Isabella is also the President of the ECO-Toa Club of young student advocate for climate change.
Last Friday, before the news was dominated by the killings in two mosques in Christchurch, she led the school in joining 160 schools around the world in a climate change strike in the hope that the leaders will hear the message from the innocent voices of the children.
The video will also be posted on social media so their voice could be heard also on the international arena.
In their stance, they pulled up posters they created themselves with messages such as “Save Our Environment”, “Let Our Future Be Clean” , “We Are Killing The Environment”, “You Say That You Love Us But You Are Killing Our Future”
“We want to show Samoa what is happening in our school and all the bad things happening with the environment, and I challenge other schools to start their own program,” said Meredith.
Nine year old student Emogen Myer is already thinking of others ways to save the environment such as compositing, and producing reusable containers as lunch boxes rather than plastic containers.
ECO-TOA is determined to have Samoa leaders hear their message.
It was an emotional scene for parents watching and listening as their children chanted “Save Our Environment.”
Some of the parents never participated or took a stand against climate change in the past.
“We were not allowed to have a voice then, but seeing my daughter making a stand has made me very proud,” said Anouska Myer.
Lorraine Williams was a very proud Principal talking proudly of the schools achievement.
“It started from a behavioral initiative of the school and the virtue called Fa’aaloalo where students were asked to respect the school, the environment and themselves, and this initiative partner comes from the ECO-TOA Club, and is also part of our school wide initiative,” said Williams.
She said since the initiative started, she noticed that instead of 3 or 4 bags of rubbish collected daily, the number was down to one.
“We make the children feel responsible for their own rubbish, and this is fantastic, because if we can work through them, doing it in their own accord and in a school environment, then hopefully that will work towards a wider community effort,” said Wiliams.
Williams takes pride in the fact that the initiative came from the students and that their creativeness has led to something far greater – fighting for their future.
Elementary teacher Victoria Barbara was not only a mentor for Eco-Toa, but helped facilitate the club.
She said the effects of climate change first hand are obvious in the Pacific feel and the children have a right to have their voices heard.
“If I can help them to get their voices heard, I feel it’s my job as a teacher to encourage them to become critical thinkers about the world they are living in,” said Barbara.
She would love to see ECO-TOA spread its wings, get the support and encourage other schools to stand together and have a voice to speak on what’s happening in Samoa.
Vaiala Beach School was the first school to respond to the global call, and with ECO-TOA as a partner, they have opened the door for the children of Samoa to come forward and be heard.