“In a world where you are invisible, please know that I see you.”
That’s the message 18-year-old volunteer from Germany, Julia Jamila Werner, spread throughout the heart of Apia last week when she handed out small gifts to street vendors and beggars on the streets.
Julia is in Samoa with Projects Abroad. She is working for the Samoa Observer and during her time in Samoa, she has noticed so many young children are hawking goods on the streets.
She has also noticed the growing number of beggars. They are everywhere in Apia, she said.
So she decided to do something about it, especially with Christmas around the corner.
With baking one of her hobbies, she used her talent to spread the love with little messages to the vendors.
The gift parcels were hand crafted carrying pieces of deliciously home made dessert, wrapped carefully in a maroon wrapping paper and finished off with a cute bow.
Each parcel carried a unique hand written letter written by Julia herself and translated in Samoan on the backside courtesy of her host family at Vaitele.
The preparation took days but they went in minutes.
The gesture is Julia’s self-funded project called, “I See You.” It’s a mission to tackle social issues and be part of the solution and not the problem.
The inspiration behind the name “I See You” is because of Julia’s experiences walking the streets of Apia and witnessing first hand how people callously pass street vendors and beggars as if they are not even there.
“ I wanted people to stop for a few seconds and open their eyes because homeless people or street kids, they seem to be quiet but I feel that they scream and people want close their eyes to the problems and to the person and just see their own nice world. I want them to pay attention to those who have less,” she told the Samoa Observer.
Thus, prompted Miss. Werner into action to begin the project. With the support of her host family, she was able to make 50 parcels to deliver to 50 lucky recipients.
She ventured unafraid into the dead of the night on late Sunday evening to deliver the parcels to child vendors who are always still roaming the street as well as others who were lingering around about the street of Apia at that late hour.
“Generally I feel pretty safe in Samoa, maybe because I’m used to the European streets,” she said.
“I heard that the parents of the street kids aren’t far away, so I’m not worried about them. I really can’t understand how people can treat kids like this. You should never put the children in that situation.”
Despite the language barrier, the glow and smile that many of the recipients portrayed as they received their presents was enough for Miss. Werner.
“I’m more worried about the homeless people because it takes pretty long until the government reacts. In Germany, everyone gets money and everyone gets a home. You should never be homeless. Here it’s different.”
“I think that, especially the homeless people, need help from those who have more. You don’t need to have a luxurious home, even just a little.”
Julia puts out a call to action for anyone in a position to help.
“It’s like many people see invisible in this world. And I just wanted to say, there are people who care because I care. And for the people who care to stand up. This is no time for you to be quite and wait for other people to do something. You have to do it on your own and its never a bad idea.”