Fa’afetai lava. Thank you Samoa for a wonderful partnership project. Our team of 25 from the West Coast spent 8 days in the most traditional, remote place we had ever attempted to build a court. Some obstacles we faced were:
- Only one concrete mixer on the whole island which meant we mixed all the cement by shovel.
- To get rocks we headed to someone’s house, paid a small fee, backed up a pick-up to a hill, and shoveled rocks from the side of the hill down to the truck and then shoveled the rocks up into the pick-up. We only did this about 20 times!
- To get sand, we drove down to the beach, backed up a truck and shoveled sand into the back of the truck.
- Supplies were in short demand, to buy an extra wheelbarrow would have been $250 US.
But being in such a remote place also meant we were immersed into a beautiful, traditional culture. There was no need for police officers or jails because all disciplinary measures were handled by the local chiefs and the punishments usually involved being fined in the most important currency- pigs! The community had no less than four traditional ceremonies for us, a welcome and farewell kava ceremony and two dance ceremonies, one with the youth and one with the ‘mamas,’ the older ladies who prepared meals for our team. Some of our team took part in the dance ceremony and were pretty impressive!
Probably the most inspiring part of the trip was the ownership the community had in the court itself. There were anywhere between 20-40 young Samoan men working tirelessly on the court at all times. We would jump in and relieve them and help out as much as we could, but for this court, it was mostly their hard work that made it happen. Then, when it was finished we realized why they volunteered their time and worked so hard. The volleyball nets went up and the court was packed. The same young men who were working so hard, were playing just as hard. They love volleyball in Samoa and these boys could play. On the final morning, even the mamas got on the court and played for about an hour and showed off their volleyball skills! This court will be put to great use. They tried to build one a few years back but couldn’t purchase the supplies to complete it. Needless to say, they were very grateful for our help and support! We would like to thank Sports Gift, a non-profit in Southern California who donated balls and jerseys that we left with the community!
I realize how blessed and fortunate I am but also how much I have to learn. These people have so little, yet seldom walk around with anything but a smile on their faces. They have shown me what it is to be content and grateful.
A service trip like this creates a state of mind in which one can think about so much more than himself- the bigger picture becomes clear. I will remember the lessons I learned while in Samoa for a long time, and I hope to participate with Courts for Kids in the future.
Two very different groups of people intertwined lives and sought a collective goal, both likely unaware of the extent to which one has blessed the other.
My most rewarding memory of the trip was seeing all of the children playing on the court after it was finished. I was filled with such a great feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at seeing the joy we had helped to bring to these children.