Samoan woman collecting books for home

By Sapeer Mayron 08 December 2020, 7:00PM

A Samoan woman, Enid Westerlund, has embarked on a mission to get children in Samoa on the wildest of adventures, conducting crazy experiments, or exploring far-off places.

In the arms of a good book, former pilot turned fashion designer Ms. Westerlund wants children to find a love of reading, writing and all the good that comes along with it.

She is collecting donations of books for four to 18 year olds and hopes to gather 1000 books by August 2021 to ship to Samoa.

To begin with those books are destined for the children of the Samoa Victims Support Group and Aleisa Primary School, nearby the Worship Centre Church where her father is the pastor.

“I think reading and comprehension of the English language are the foundations to formal education, if we want our children to succeed academically,” Ms. Westerlund told the Samoa Observer.

“This starts from a love of reading and we should teach our kids to read not only for knowledge but also for pleasure, for the sake of creativity and imagination. 

“Reading used to be a luxury but it should be the norm for every child.”

Ms. Westerlund, who is based in Tauranga, first started collecting books to send away when two young girls from Tonga asked her for help. 

As her collection grew, she realised she could help many more than two girls with a project like this. 

“I had an AHA! moment,” she said. It’s why she named her efforts the AHA! Project. 

“I hope that these books will ignite the imagination and adventure spirit of the next generation, to provide escape and hope for the ones whose lives has been shattered by abuse and for our young people to develop a love for reading.

“If these books inspire one reader, one future author, one journalist then this project has already achieved its goal.”

For two years, Ms. Westerlund taught science on a volunteer basis to high schoolers from her church and noticed how some of them struggled with their English and reading abilities.

“We have to start them early otherwise they’re already behind by the time they move onto high-school,” she said.

The project has not been going for long but it has already inspired several people to donate and hundreds of books have been dropped off at various collection points.

Ms. Westerlund and her sister Louisa Westerlund sort through donations, choosing out the best quality books – both for their writing quality and their physical quality, she added.

The books need to be in fairly good condition because the humid air in Samoa can damage books. A friend in Australia has been buying heavy duty containers so that the books will be stored safely until the day for shipping comes.

Friends and family have already jumped on board to help cover the packaging and shipping costs, and Ms. Westerlund said would be glad for anyone else to contribute too. 

The AHA! Project is on Facebook and you can contact Ms. Westerlund for more information or to donate to the project.


Samoans abroad
By Sapeer Mayron 08 December 2020, 7:00PM

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