Last week, Tropical Cyclone Gita swept through the South Pacific, leaving a trail of destruction and causing some Pacific Island states such as Tonga and Samoa to declare a state of emergency . Alongside many others, my friends Mae and Tala had their home destroyed.
Mae and Tala are just really good humans. Knowing them has been one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had. Tala was in an accident as a teenager and lost his arm, rendering him unable to work many Samoan jobs. They married in 2014, and then saved for 2 years to build a home, which was challenging with one income stream in Samoa (they had to supply both their families at the same time). Last August, they built their home on a family member’s property- no doors, no windows, simple walls, and a whole lot of love. When I visited their place while working in Samoa in September, they were so excited with it and keen to share their plans to improve their cooking area and more. We drove to Mae's mother's village in my rental car to pick up a toilet for Mae and Tala to install. I had never seen anyone so appreciative of a small gesture.
Mae and Tala, from a Western perspective, really don't have a lot. From another perspective (and perhaps the perspective we’ll all increasingly embrace), they are so rich. Their love for and friendship with one another is off the charts, they demonstrate some of the deepest care for family I’ve seen, and they appreciate everything they have so incredibly much. Right now, they could use a leg up as they navigate this tough time.
With their permission, I’ve started this fund to assist with the rebuild costs of their home that they are unable to meet. If you are in a position to contribute anything to this effort, it would put such a smile on their faces and light them up to know people are encouraging, backing and blessing them.
My friendship with Mae and Tala was my favourite gift from my time in Samoa, and truly re-oriented things for me. Time with them served as a welcome reminder of what really matters while we’re here. I hope their story brought a little reflective sparkle to your day too.
Fa'afetai lava (thank you so much).
- Reggie Luedtke
- Rebecca Love
- Amy Greenwood
- Dylan G
- Cassy Andrew