An Australian volunteer, Samantha Goerling, who ran from Apia to Siumu for the Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G) yesterday presented her donation to the S.V.S.G House of Hope (H.O.H).
The young Australian ran alongside 10 other runners and a cyclist with four support vehicles close by to generate enough donations for educational supplies for the H.O.H.
This was her way of giving back to Samoa for the hospitality shown to her.
“I wanted to give back to Samoa and every time I felt like quitting during the run I just told myself that this is for Samoa and the children and it helped me all the way through,” she said.
The 23km donation run raised $685, which was ironic for Ms. Goerling because “685 is also Samoa’s area code.”
There were a few challenges faced by the young Australian during the run.
“The toughest thing about the run was going uphill because my legs felt so heavy and the dogs were a menace,” Ms. Goerling said. “But it was good to have people who knew the road and could warn me when the dogs are coming up.
“It was breeze coming down the hill though because I could see the ocean getting closer and closer.”
The money went towards purchasing a portable whiteboard, educational games as well as equipment such as rulers, pencils, paper and posters which were all presented directly to the S.V.S.G School.
The young Australian was moved by the songs of thanks the children sang after the donations were presented
“What touched me the most after presenting my gift were the children singing” Ms. Goerling said “Singing is the most precious way of showing gratitude which was beautiful.”
For Siliniu Lina Chang, the president of S.V.S.G., this was an amazing gesture.
“These children don’t get many visitors so having people here is amazing let alone getting gifts from someone” Ms. Chang said. “I wish to thank Samantha for the donations because it will help so much with developing the children’s education.”
This was the first time the school has met Ms. Goerling which made the donation so much more meaningful.
“I wish to thank Samantha because we have never met before and she has never volunteered for us but she did such an extraordinary thing for these children” Ms Chang said. “I agree with Samantha that education is very important and so these educational supplies will be put to good use.”
The young Australian wanted the children to learn a small but simple lesson.
“I want the kids to know that things that might not be possible today can very well be possible tomorrow,” Ms Goerling said. “They should never give up hope because they will achieve great things. For me I thought I would never run again and now I ran across an island.”
According to Ms. Chang, that small message of hope is very important for the children right now.
“We have young ladies who are pregnant and empowering them is all that’s needed” Ms Chang said. “Most of the young ladies should have nothing to be ashamed of and to know that there’s always hope for them.”