Loto Taumafai Society for People with Disabilities (L.T.S.) received Braille Reading Machines and early reader books from the New Zealand High Commission yesterday.
Outgoing New Zealand High Commissioner, David Nicholson, presented the much-needed equipment to L.T.S. Chief Executive Officer, Leta’a Daniel Devoe, and the staff of the L.T.S.
“The quality of a society is the sign of how they treat people at the margins,” said Mr. Nicholson. “When you go around Samoa, you see kids with disabilities who have no other opportunities in the Samoan system, which is why this is a beautiful facility for their education.
“They’ve got a whole range of ‘saints’ who are dedicated to their educational support. I was just completely moved when I came here so I tried to do something with the limited resources I got to encourage people to look at it more effectively in the next financial year.”
Loto Taumafai School Principal, Lagi Natanielu, was excited and grateful for the donation saying that the support and perseverance of the New Zealand High Commissioner in sourcing the ready reading materials was greatly appreciated.
“These resources and the generosity and if I can say, the genuine generosity of David Nicholson when he first came to visit us at the end of last year, he made a commitment to support V.S.A. volunteers much more.
“When he came to visit our school before Independence Day this year, he gave us his commitment to see what he can do and the four weeks away, he made it happen with the braille machines. For us, to have two children who are blind and one from a family of four children who are blind, this is epic.”
Mr. Nicholson praised the staff of the school and the leaders of L.T.S. having established an ongoing supportive relationship with the society since his time in Samoa.
“You don’t get facilities like that without people being dedicated,” he said. “You’ve got the support of the Prime Minister and the Government, which means that those kids ultimately benefit, Lagi who is the Principal who is a real saint, she did a lot of her training in New Zealand but she has come here to give back and the enthusiasm and care they take with the kids is fantastic.”
Leta’a presented Mr. Nicholson with the gift of art made especially by some of the students comprising a landscape painting and a carving. He also met two students with eye sight disabilities, who thanked him.
“They’re beautiful kids, Joshua he was very friendly and nice. The interesting thing is when you go through life and you see people with disabilities, they are often compensated with different skills. Those kids have got beautiful personalities and so you can see they’re going to have talents that are going to be totally different.”
Previously, early reading materials in Samoan were not available in Samoa, however with the new machines; teachers will now be able to print labels in Samoan braille, which is going to be an invaluable resource for the teachers at L.TS, according to Mrs. Natanielu.
“To have the braille machines and to have graded readers will go a long way in the priorities that Lotomafai School is working on under the inclusive education policy,” said Mrs. Natanielu.
“We can have amazing facilities, but if we don’t have the tools and the resources to carry out the work that we do here with the staff, it’s really, really difficult. I give glory to the Lord for Leta’a’s leadership in spearheading that and a big massive thank you to the V.S.A. because honour is due to their phenomenal support in the three years that I have been in Loto Taumafai.”