Opening of the Clea Salavert Library, Lalomanu Primary School
Matt Anderson, Australian High Commissioner to Samoa
Tuesday, 5 October 2010
I was at a loss, truly, as to what to say this morning. When Cas called to honour me with the opportunity to say I few words, the well was dry. Eventually, I scratched down a few:
It was as I sat looking at the blinking cursor on my screen, that I received a copy of the Samoan Government’s report into the tsunami. The scale of the loss, the measure of endeavour, the accounting for gifts, and the mountains left to climb.
And you know how the Samoan Government chose to make sense from this tragedy? To find beauty amidst the rubble? They quoted from Jorge’s prose, Lalomanu.
Jorge, the Samoan Government took strength from your insights. Courage from your family’s courage. And found wisdom that can only come from one whose loss is so profound, that neither the English, nor the Spanish language has a word for it. As Trudie knows, it is a loss that most often can’t be said. It can only be felt. That was your first gift to the people of Samoa.
And this library behind me is the second gift, a most important gift. To some, libraries are nothing more than a store room for books. For others, they are a place of reprimand. When I grew up, the Christian brothers would send students to the library as punishment. “Mr Anderson, go to the library for the next period!” Now Jordi and Omar, I’m not saying it was the only reason I was naughty in class, but I did enjoy being sent to the library.
Jorge, Trudie and the staff from Amaroo know that it is in libraries that imaginations take flight. It is in libraries that boundaries are pressed. It is in libraries that dreams are nurtured. I commend you for ensuring that this will be far more than a building, but a monument to Clea’s love of learning, and a home for all her hopes, dreams and potential.
Of course, this library did not build itself. Far from the watchful crowd, Jason and Cas Green have nurtured this garden, with the help of Fuataga and Shan, the School Committee and Lalomanu’s gifted artisans. But it is not only mortar holding this project together. In every course of brick is sewn Jason and Cas’s love for you – and for Clea.
The official bit is that I must thank DHL for overloading diplomatic bags for the past 10 months with the gift of knowledge. The vast majority of books in this library were sent here, airfreight, and free of charge. The High Commission’s fire escapes and exit isles are now free of mountains of books, and I have a slim chance of passing the next occupational health and safety audit!
Today we celebrate more than a library. We celebrate a monument to a family’s love for their daughter, sister, niece, student and friend. And we celebrate a living tribute to a beautiful young girl whose spirit will, forever, reside in those who use this library to fire their imaginations and to follow their dreams.
Jorge and Trudie Salavert-Wykes at the opening of Clea's Library.
Photo from Samoa Observer.