Last Friday, Ele Opeloge returned to where it all started: Leifiifi College.
She was accorded a heroine’s welcome by staff and students who greeted her with applause as she made her way into their assembly hall.
As an alumni of the college, Ele fought back tears as she came home to where her journey had begun.
The rows and rows of eager students passionately sang in honour of Ele who was flanked by her coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork.
The ceremony began with a special word of encouragement from staff member, Leleimalefaga who urged Ele and the students to live by the spirit. He said, “With God anything is possible.”
There was never any question that her college would donate to the Samoa Observer - Ele’s Fund and they contributed a generous $750. Ele acknowledged Leifiifi was the special place where her mind and spirit were nourished in her teenage years and thanked the students and staff for their support.
She also encouraged the students to pay attention and listen to their teachers in school.
The principal of Leifiifi, Malae Sefuiva Lauano, thanked Ele for personally making a visit to the college.
The assembly ended the best way we know how with a special siva Samoa for the Olympic champion supported by staff and Tuaopepe.
Organising committee member of the Samoa Observer- Ele’s Fund, Marj Moore said that Tuaopepe and Ele have made it a priority to visit the schools to express their thanks to those who have contributed to Ele’s Fund.
“It is so important, particularly for young people to actually see a local hero in real life who exemplifies what can be achieved with talent, hard work and commitment,” said Moore.
“Ele’s story is such a wonderful example for young people to learn from because it brings in issues of fairness, scarifices, dealing with setbacks and staying true to your country.”
Moore said that Ele and Tuaopepe still have Robert Louis Stevenson Primary School at Lotopa on their list to visit and say thank you.