"A Gift of Hope" | My Family Travels
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          It has been nearly two months after the devastating tragedy on September 29, 2009. Our Principal Simon Mageo came to our National Honor Society of our Samoana High School as he smiled and listened to our new service project during lunch time on a Monday afternoon. Our club officers announced some changed of plans and suggested that we should offer our service to every village whose families have lost homes and belongings from unexpected tidal waves on the tragedic day on September. We did not have much money in our account and therefore set up a date to finance money by having a bake sale before we meet the hopeless families. We posted up posters around the school campus about our bake sale and saved up money in our account.

         By the day of our bake sale, each member brought different kinds of food, candies, and drinks. We received many donations from other clubs, teachers, and from our bake sale to shop for can foods, gifts bags, toiletries, and we also donated clothes. It was a Friday, the last day to wrap up our gifts getting prepared for tomorrow’s trip. During my fifth period class, I was excused along with the National Honor Society treasurer, Chelsea, to finish some last minute wrappings and to come up with a theme to our service project. Chelsea and I were having trouble to come up with a theme until I suggested to name the theme, “A Gift of Hope”, because the people suffered through tough times ever since a tsunami struck the island and to be able to cope with our issues, we have to remind ourselves not to give up hope and keep moving on with our lives by working together.

          I came promptly to school the next day excited for the trip. When I came to our meeting, we were already having problems. The major problem was transportation. Most of us did not get our driver’s license yet. Luckily, we had parents who volunteered, but was not enough for all of us to go to one place together. Our advisor implied that we should be divided into five groups of seven or eight since we only have five cars. Each group was given two lists of families from different villages. The group I was in got to go to Pago, the most damage of all villages, and to Fagasa over the mountain. I was ecstatic because even though I was raised here on the island all my life, I have never travelled far away from home.
         
         Our trip to Pago was just a short ride because our school was a few miles away. The village was scattered with debris as workers and volunteers were cleaning up. On our first visit, my group and I received thanks and tears. The family was surprised to see us on their front door handing them their “A Gift of Hope” bag. We did not want to stay too long for we have a long way to go. After our visiting most families in Pago, our next stop was over the mountain.
          
          We were going way up high that my ears started to clog. As we were passing by, I saw beautiful houses and my God, the beautiful scenery of the ocean! We were all in awe so fascinated with our surroundings. When we reached down the village, it was peaceful as we tried to search where each family live. Each visit made us proud students. When we saw each family with tears in their eyes, we felt their happiness and gratitude. Most families tried to give us money, but we rejected it. We were happy to be doing this for them.
          
          When we went back to school, we shared our experiences with our other members and to our advisor. When Christmas came, we did our last visit together as a club to each village giving our Christmas baskets and Christmas trees. We all felt happy about what we did and this is one of the experiences that I would never forget. Back then, I have never felt happy, peaceful, and thankful. I always thought living on this stranded island would make me lifeless and the island itself is boring as hell. Well, I was wrong. Visiting the villages and families taught me to appreciate things that are most valued in life: family, unity, and hope.

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