With Phase one of Samoa’s Va’a based Environmental Education Campaign, more passionately known as “Guardians – Tausi Lou Fa’asinomaga”, now firmly behind us, the Guardians team are now preparing to venture out to Aiga I Le Tai district to kick off phase two.
The Conservation International Samoa-led-initiative began the practical stage of its campaign soon after its official launch by Samoa’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, on the 17th of July and concluded its first phase with the Aleipata district on Friday, 3rd of August.
The primary goal of the campaign is to increase the environmental literacy among the young children of Samoa while also building pride in their cultural heritage through the use of Samoa’s traditional canoe, the Gaualofa, as Samoa’s floating classroom.
Phase one saw the vast number of young participants spend two weeks at the Guardians base, located at the Satitoa Wharf, rotating through different modules designed to highlight environmental issues for both the land and marine life as well as ways to remedy these issues.
The five modules were; Wise Fishers - where the children learnt different aspects of marine life, Samoan Voyagers - where they were taught about our proud voyaging history - why Samoa was known as heart of Polynesia and how we used nature to navigate and traverse the open seas, Coral Champions - which illustrated coral biology and highlighted the many roles of our coral reefs, Tree Guardians - where they looked at why there is a need to protect our trees and mangroves; and Trash Star - which gave lessons on how destructive different types of rubbish can be to our environment, and what we can do about it.
The Guardians team, employed various unique, interactive and hands on teaching tools to understand environmental principles. Students were snorkelling and identifying live and dead coral, exploring the Gaualofa and learning how to sail, exploring biodiversity in the mangroves, various environmental influenced games and songs, environment chants/jingles and much much more.
“This campaign is a first of its kind in Samoa,” says CI Samoa Program Director and President of the Samoan Voyaging Society, Schannel Fanene van Dijken.
“Bringing together many Government Ministries and Non Governmental Organisations and agencies with a common goal to impart unforgettable environmental knowledge that the youth need to know. Knowledge needed to be able to live sustainably on an Island. The magic of this is also that this is not your typical “awareness raising” campaign with a bunch of passive presentations. This is a very special unique collaborative program where over the course of one week, each community and school are taught environmental and cultural education through interactive hands-on activities. These are delivered to the schools around Samoa, via our very own floating classroom – the Gaualofa – our traditional voyaging canoe. The big aim is to reach all schools in Samoa and change the way our youth and, by extension our communities, view our natural resources and our proud ancestral past.”
CI Samoa's partners include; Samoa Voyaging Society, MNRE, MAF, MWCSD, MESC, YCAN Samoa, SCS, NUS, with support from FAO, UNESCO and SPREP.
Here are a few photos highlighting the campaigns first phase where over 270 year seven and eight students from the villages of Tiavea, Samusu, Saleaumua, Lotopue, Lalomanu, Vailoa, Ulutogia and Satitoa took part in.