This Erna girl

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erna

Before we start our day, let’s all take a moment to collectively be in awe (jealous/envy etc.) of this young woman, who, in my personal opinion has been far too selfish with all positive human attributes 🙂 I mean, who looks this beautiful, models, is absolutely adored by everyone she meets, basically topped every class she ever took in her life, and oh wait for it, just received a Queens Young Leaders Award. She received the award because on top of all that, she is also the first Samoan Optometrist and has worked on ensuring access to free eye glasses for those under 16 and others. Perhaps the icing on the cake, is that Ms. Erna Takazawa is only 26! And we hear she has a pretty nifty fiancee to boot… ok ok, that wasn’t necessary, but hey, I mean who does all that, and also has a nice fiancee 🙂 Just saying.

Humour aside, Storm Campaign would like to take this precious moment to congratulate Ms. Takazawa on this awesome achievement. There is a Samoan saying that goes: “Malo le fa’aeaea atunuu, malo le tautua. O ou mama na”

But Storm Campaign just wants to say: “YOU ROCK ERNA!”

Here is the full blurb of Ernas Award on the Queens Young Leaders website: After finding out that her sister was short-sighted, Erna discovered how expensive it was to buy glasses in Samoa. She studied optometry in New Zealand and became Samoa’s first and only optometrist. Her efforts in promoting the need for affordable eye care have helped to lead to free eye care for under-16s and over-65s, free glasses for children and more affordable glasses for adults.


Personal Note:
I first met Erna when she was about 13, I was working as a cadet journalist for Samoa Observer, when I was called on to do a story on this young girl who basically won all the trophies for the final year at a local Primary School, the picture that featured with my story, showed this little girl sitting in the middle of about 20 trophies, some larger than her. Later on, I met Erna again when she started dating her fiance, a good friend and fellow writer. Needless to say, I was not surprised that Erna had grown up to be an extremely intelligent beautiful and well accomplished young woman. At the time of writing the article about her trophies, her mother and I chatted about Erna, and her mother was immensely proud, but unassuming at the same time. Now that I am a mother, I can only imagine the pride she must have felt at that time, and even now.

So here’s a big cheers to Erna, but here’s also a big cheers to her Mom, and to everyone who also contributed to shaping the life of this amazing young woman.

Photo Credit: Janets Samoa

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I am Tapuitea, not Charlie, not Ahmed

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Tapuitea Final

This is what I am now endorsing. I am now Tapuitea, not Charlie nor Ahmed. I would like to think that I do not have a stake in the Paris shootings, I would like to think that living on a small island means I do not have to deal with religious rights, media freedom, political satire and the other things that affect the western world so strongly. But the truth is, I have a massive stake in this event, I am human, I was born in a Christian nation, I am a practicing journalist and most importantly, the Paris shootings, although far removed from my island bubble, will affect the future of Storm and her generation.

She will be part of a world that continues in turmoil as a result of entrenched beliefs and unfair indoctrination. Her peers will be from conflict areas, her career might lead her to be part of conflict resolution, her cousins Blessings-from-the-sky and Reaching-for-the-skies live in the Middle East, at age 7 and 2 they are already very much a part of the part of the world that is so far removed from us today, yet so much a part of our lives in the future.

Storm is fortunate to be born in a place and in a family where she can choose her path. She is fortunate that she has a roof over her head, parents who love her and a food every day. Others her age elsewhere in the world, are not so fortunate, so I hope that by instilling in this one human being, the right values, compassion and respect, that she will somehow grow up to make a difference in her own little way.

Today, I am Tapuitea, the first star of the night sky, the last to leave the sky at dawn. I believe in freedom of religion and expression without imposition. I believe in the individuals right to choose and not to be influenced by others. I believe in treating others the way we want to be treated. I am Samoan, and I am Tapuitea.