Generosity powers Savai'i walk
The threat of unpredictable weather hanging over the big island during the first days of 2020 was not enough to deter Adam Jones from his mission to walk around Savai'i for a good cause.
And on Sunday after four days, 186 kilometres, a few blisters and innumerable steps, the Kiwi engineer had conquered his challenge and seen more than he ever expected.
While the rest of the country spent the first few days of the new year with their loved ones, Mr. Jones was out in the sun (and other elements) and making moves to raise whatever money he could to help the families affected by the measles epidemic.
Mr. Jones is the Director of a company called Nesian Cohesion, a venture which, he says, was established to to help communities in the South Pacific. One of its main goals is to promote people's fitness, both physical and mental.
So as a Director, Mr. Jones was motivated to put himself forward for a mission that challenged his mind and body both and the idea to walk around Savaii was born.
Mr. Jones admitted the walk was, indeed, challenging.
"Starting early at 5am [...] was tough," he said.
"Because of the sun, we had to get six hours done in the morning then go for break before continuing in the evening.
"But the problem with waking up at 5am is having dogs bark at you. I always had to find a stick.
"I've been lucky so far but I have been getting blisters. After the first four hours, your feet start getting sore and my feet were sore but i had to keep walking."
But Mr. Jones said the experience of his charity walk around Savaii was worth any discomfort. At the time of writing, his charitable website had raised a shade under NZD$900.
"[The idea to hold a walk began] before the measles outbreak in Samoa," Mr. Jones told the Samoa Observer.
"When the measles [struck] and obviously it was in a really bad state, I thought i'd make a charity and started a 'Give a Little' [web] page which i can [use to raise funds for...] Samoa to help with the measles."
Why did he chose Savaii?
"Probably because i came here about 10 years ago," he said
"I actually enjoy the place; I find that Savaii is more village-life and its more relaxed.
"Also my friend, who i have been doing this walk with, his family is from Savaii and he's got [family] around the island that can provide places for us to stay.
"The first night we stayed at Taga. The second night we stayed at Neiafu and the third night we stayed at Jane's Beach Fales at Manase."
The walk was also a rare chance to seen Samoa's less populated island up close - and for some contemplation, Mr. Jones said:
"It's surprising what you think about when you walk around and ideas came to mind.
"It's a beautiful country and everyone is so happy and everyone says hi to you while walking on the road.
"One time, we had a break in one of the fale Samoa and the local people came out and brought us some food and mats.
"They're such caring people and that's great to see. That is something i would definitely take with me from this trip.
"I, too, love helping people and its so good seeing that here in Samoa.
"The sights all around the island amaze me in so many ways."
Mr. Jones didn't set up a target amount; he started this mission to get whatever amount he can to donate for Samoa.
"And I think this is something that we need to encourage back at home with suicide and mental health issues," he said.
"Because part of the reasons why people commit suicide is because they are isolated, they don't spend much time interacting with other people and spend more time with their loved ones.
"It's inspiring to see them enjoy the simple life and the things they have."
"Any money that i would raise would be good enough to help those who were affected by the epidemic.
"Theres been a lot of people fund raising for the measles as well which was great to see, so I did my little bit."
Mr. Jones jokingly said most people didn't have know what he was up to.
"Some thought I was a normal tourist walking around the island.
"I had a couple of village boys who joined me and people didn't seem to believe what i was doing when [I] tried to explain what i was up to."
Before returning back to his country, Mr. Jones, a civil engineer, has a message to share:
"For 2020, everyone should set a goal and then work hard to achieve that goal.
"Dream big and work hard to make your dream come true.
"Something from this walk that i have learnt is that the human body has no limit. Even when youre in pain, you gotta be mentally strong and push through."
Lastly, he wanted to express his sincere gratitude to everyone who donated and has been supporting him with his charity walk, including TV3 and Digicel which helped provide him with mobile data and the people of Savaii. All donations will be passed onto the Government of Samoa.