Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Galu Afi Samoa Launch

Tsunami survivor Amy Purcell from Malaela and Lani at the Samoa launching of 'Galu Afi'.

Many voices, many hearts and many hands were a part of this book. These are YOUR stories. This is YOUR book. Thank you.

NZ Launch Info

In commemoration of the first anniversary of the devastating tsunami of 29 September, 2009, The Centre for Pacific Studies at The University of Auckland is proud to host the New Zealand Launch of Pacific Tsunami 'Galu Afi', a book by Lani Wendt Young.

Date - Thursday 7 October, 2010
Venue - Fale Pasifika, The University of Auckland
Keynote Speaker - Samoan Author Albert Wendt

By Invitation

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Australia Supports Samoan Tsunami Book

Australia’s support for publishing Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi (Wave of Fire) written by Lani Wendt Young about last year’s devastating tsunami, will give all Samoans further insight into the tragedy and the need to heed the call to be prepared for natural disasters.

Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi, which will be launched next week on the eve of the first anniversary of the tsunami, captures stories of the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods in Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, as well as the incredible bravery of survivors and those who responded to the disaster.

Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Matt Anderson said Australia’s support to publishing 5000 copies of Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi is a reflection of Australia’s enduring friendship with Samoa.

“In her book, Lani has captured poignant memories of the devastating tsunami and the journey since. The stories are heavy with loss and sadness but they are also stories filled with courage, hope and strength,” Mr Anderson said.

“And from these powerful stories, there are some key messages we must all heed in the Pacific - we can never be too prepared for a natural disaster and we should head inland and to higher ground following an earthquake.”

“I would like to congratulate Lani on her sensitive, thoughtful and well written account of the disaster and also on her success in winning a Commonwealth writers commendation for her tsunami short story announced last week.”

“Australia is very proud to support the publication of Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi with funds from the Australian Aid Program. We hope this support reminds all Samoans that Australia stands ready to help our Pacific neighbours whenever and wherever there is a need.”

Mr Anderson said in the wake of the tsunami, Australia provided A$12 million to help Samoa, reflecting Australia’s friendship with Samoans and our joint determination to help Samoa rebuild.

Pacific Tsunami Galu Afi will be launched on 27 September 2010. The book will be sold for $50 from Plantation House, Aggie Grey’s Hotel, Aggie Grey’s Resort, and Samoa Money Exchange. All profits from book sales will go to tsunami rebuilding efforts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

'The Beast that Came from the Sea.'

Lani Wendt Young is one of 25 'Highly Commended'writers in the 2010 Commonwealth Short Story Competition. Her story ‘The Beast that came from the Sea.’ is one of twenty-five stories selected from more than 2,000 entries to receive a cash prize and will feature on the Commonwealth Foundation website. The 25 stories have been professionally recorded for radio broadcast and will be distributed to radio stations in over 54 countries worldwide with a combined audience of more than 2 billion people. The competition is an annual scheme to promote new creative writing for radio, funded and administered by the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association. Entry is open to all Commonwealth citizens aged 19 and over to send in original, unpublished short stories. The overall winner for 2010 is Shachi Kaul from India.

Lani’s story is about the 29/09 tsunami that devastated villages in Samoa, American Samoa and the Tongan island of Niuatoputapu. It poignantly captures the terror experienced by many on that day, as well as the long-term impact such trauma has had on those who lost loved ones in this disaster.

Of her achievement, Lani commented, “It’s really exciting to have my writing recognized in such a prestigious international competition. But what really moves me, is to know that thanks to the Commonwealth Foundation, people all over the world will know and understand a little bit more about what Samoa endured on 29/09. My story was inspired by the experiences of several mothers who lost children in the tsunami. As a mother of five, I have great admiration for these women who fought so hard for their little ones and now are trying to rebuild their lives. Everyday they make that decision to keep moving forward, continuing to care for their families in spite of all they have suffered. I pay tribute to them with this story.”

Lani Wendt Young is also the author of the upcoming book ‘Galu Afi’ about the Pacific Tsunami of 29/09 which will be launched here in Apia on the 27th of September. The book will be available for general sale on the 28th of Sept at various local outlets including – Samoa Money Exchange, Plantation House, TV3 Office. The book will retail for $50 and all profits go to tsunami relief and education in the affected areas.

To read Lani's story for yourself, click the link below:http://www.commonwealthfoundation.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=uVvE4JjLU_I%3D&tabid=533

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Essential Book Info

Samoa Book Launch:
Date - Monday 27th September, 2010
Venue - Tiafau Fale, Hotel Millenia, Sogi
Keynote Speaker - His Highness the Head of State.
Books will be available for sale at the launch. All those interviewed for the book will receive a free signed copy of the book.
Books will be on sale for the general public on Tuesday 28th September, 2010 at the following outlets:
*Samoa Money Exchange ( Beside Mcdonalds Family Restaurant)
*Plantation House
*TV3 Office
Further local outlets are yet to be confirmed.
Cost: $50.00

Friday, September 3, 2010

An Evening in honor of Robert Louis Stevenson, Tusitala - Teller of Tales.

I was invited to speak about the upcoming book at the annual Robert Louis Stevenon Memorial Gala held at the RLS Museum at Vailima. It was a great opportunity to promote the book and its stories. Thank you Tilafaiga Rex Maughn and the RLS Museum Foundation.
Galu Afi - Wave of Fire
It is no surprise that Robert Louis Stevenson chose to make Samoa his home as the Samoan people are a poetic and lyrical people and great storytellers themselves. Speak with the survivors of the 2009 tsunami and they will tell you...

What a tsunami looks like. “It was a beast that leapt up out of the sea and ran towards us. It was a demon, a hungry animal. It was the color of night and its foam crest was black smoke. It moved like fire across the land. I looked and all I saw was death coming.” What a tsunami sounds like. “It roared like a hundred bulldozers with gears stuck and grinding in first gear. It was a swarm of jet planes taking off. It was the sound of war and guns. It growled as it smashed houses and threw cars.” Why a tsunami is called ‘galu afi, wave of fire?’ "The water was hot. It brought many dead fish. The water burned inside my chest. It made me sick. My skin was scraped off from being dragged in the wave, like I was burned. It killed all the trees and the grass. The path of the wave in our village is all dry and dead. Now I know what the elders meant when they warned me about galu afi. No wave brings a fire except for this one.”
A week after the tsunami, Mr Joe Keil approached me. He said someone needs to gather the stories of the tsunami, to record them – while they were still very raw, fresh. Before they were purposely forgotten as people tried to move on, to rebuild their lives. Joe had a vision of a book,that would speak with the voices of those who had lived through the 2009 Pacific Tsunami and tell of those who had died,those who had worked to rescue, heal and rebuild. I was asked to take that vision and give it substance. And so it was decided. The book would be a narrative story weaving together many different people’s experiences. It would include survivor stories from American Samoa and Tonga. It would be a non-profit project - Joe would personally fund the research/writing costs and all proceeds from the books sale would be put into a tsunami aid fund. We set a date for the release of the book – one year after the tsunami. (and then i started freaking out...because I'd never actually written a book before AND because that didnt really give me very much time to get it done!)
In October 2009, I started gathering people’s stories. Lying in hospitals, camped in tents, gathered in rough shelters in the mountain bush or sitting beside the new graves of their loved ones – survivors everywhere paused in their recovery and rebuilding to share their stories. I travelled to American Samoa several times to interview survivors there as well. All the interviews were audio recorded and then transcribed and translated to English. Initially, I had worried how people would react when asked to share their stories. In particular, those who had lost loved ones and homes. What if they got angry at my visit? What if they found my questions offensive and intrusive? What if they didn’t want to talk about the tsunami because it was too painful? Yet, time and again, I found that people were more than willing to talk. Many were grateful for the opportunity to share their experiences. For some, the interviews were therapeutic. People would talk for an hour or more. I was humbled by the reception I received. Everywhere, survivors welcomed us into their homes and shelters with gracious hospitality and offered us the finest of whatever they had. (I have had biscuits in saleaumua, niu in satitoa, hot baked umu kalo in lalomanu, pineapple in saleapaga, pisupo in vaovai, tuna and rice in poutasi – to name a few) People relived the nightmares of that day in September with strength and courage and in this book, they have entrusted us with their sorrows.
There were many visitors and tourists from overseas that had been caught in the tsunami. It was a challenge to track them down but I was able to do so with the assistance of the Aust and NZ High Commission offices here. A common theme in their stories was gratitude for the way Samoans had taken care of them after the tsunami, when many were left with nothing, not even the clothes on their backs. Its impossible to listen to their accounts and NOT be impressed by the many examples of caring and compassion shown during that difficult time. Nynette Sasse of the Samoa Hotel Association went out to the disaster zone right after the tsunami. She saw tourists wearing colourful mu’umu’us and Sunday best puletasi and Shirts.“These people had climbed up out of the tsunami completely naked. As soon as the villagers saw them, they ran up with their best clothes to dress them. I was so humbled to see how our people took care of the visitors. I was so proud at that moment to be a Samoan!” I know how Nynette feels. As I have listened to the survivor stories of our friends from overseas – I have gained a greater appreciation for the generousity and hospitality of our culture. I was surprised to find that most visitors who lived through 29/09 – actually wanted to return to Samoa. I thought they would have been put off forever. In the words of a 12 yr old boy from Auckland, NZ, Max Wilson –
“Samoans were the kindest people I have ever met. On that day they looked after us before they looked after their own families. They lost everything and most had lost family and friends. We are collecting money to help them rebuild their lives. We are returning back to Litia Sini once it’s rebuilt. We want to go back for opening night.”
There were so many people who dedicated incredible amounts of time and effort to see Samoa through this disaster – both local and those from other nations – and some of their stories are also included in the book. I am in awe of those who worked under very difficult conditions putting their own lives at risk, to help others. The FESA worker, part of the first team out to Aleipata, who worked through debris and muddy water to search for the living and the dead – all the while not knowing if her own six children on the island of Manono were alive or dead. The DMO and Disaster Response people who headed down the hill and towards the sea while most of us were evacuating, running away from the ocean. The book pays tribute to them all. One survivor wrote - “We want to say how fantastic the Samoan fire service was, and the medical teams. They were there so quickly. Anyone who ever says that there was not enough fast action after the tsunami – they’re wrong. It was unbelievably good, especially for a country like Samoa where you wouldn’t think they would be that well organized. If we had that sort of reaction time in New Zealand, you’d be thrilled. It was sensational. I take my hat off to whoever helps organize Civil Defence in Samoa.”Graham Ansell, New Zealand. The book also tells of the amazing relief work carried out by many nations and international organizations.
It is now a year later. It has been a long, challenging journey – but thanks to the help and support of many - the project is now complete. The printing of the book was made possible by the generous support of the Australian government AID Program who have paid for the first print run of 5000 books. The book will be launched here on the 27th of Sept. Further launches will take place in AmSamoa, NZ, Australia and the US. I want to emphasize that this book is NOT a comprehensive, all-knowing account of the tsunami as the stories are only a fragment of people’s experiences. There is so much we can learn from this disaster and I call on families and communities here, and in AmSamoa and Tonga to continue to seek out the stories of the tsunami.
The stories in the ‘Galu Afi’ book are heavy with loss, sadness and suffering. But they are also stories filled with courage, hope, compassion and strength. It was a privilege to record them, to write them, and to share them in the upcoming book. I hope others will find them as inspiring and uplifting as I have