American Samoa – a little place for big change

There are many ways to impact upon the world and all of us occasionally need the reminder that the change starts from us. The small island territory of American Samoa, with just 55,000 inhabitants, was the last one to register to World Cleanup Day and so it seems fitting that they are also the last […]

There are many ways to impact upon the world and all of us occasionally need the reminder that the change starts from us. The small island territory of American Samoa, with just 55,000 inhabitants, was the last one to register to World Cleanup Day and so it seems fitting that they are also the last to finish. As the green wave started in the western Pacific, American Samoa sits right on the other side of the date line. World Cleanup Day started and finished in almost the same geographical spot.

Local environmental activist, Nerelle Que, contacted the World Cleanup Day team as New Zealand had already started cleaning on World Cleanup Day, and was enthusiastic to organise a cleanup locally. They engaged a corporate partner, issued a Press Release and planned a total of five cleanups in a couple of hours “I was just about to post to Instagram about how much trash we found from the ocean in just 30 minutes. So, while doing that, I found out about the World Cleanup Day and realised that the whole world is doing what we are doing, altogether on the same day. So I wanted to get involved in that!” said Nerelle Que.

Change in the world starts with an individual decision to make that change and it can happen in an instant, as so eloquently demonstrated by the example of American Samoa. Sometimes it takes just one person to motivate tens, who can motivate hundreds and thousands in the future. American Samoa certainly played its part in joining millions on 15 September.

Jim Sharman, Regional Coordinator for India, Oceania and USA, says that what really sparks him is when an individual decides to make a difference. “One person, deciding like that to make a difference, to contribute to change, to BE the change she wants to see on the planet. This story is the most inspirational one I have come across today and I look forward to there being countless other similar ones as we implement lasting and real change to our environment. Nerelle’s tenacity and spirited decision to act proves that it’s not too late to make a difference and to contribute to a noble cause,” added Sharman.

But what comes next?

Que concludes: “Next year we could do something better, get the government agencies involved and try to have them clean up the entire island. 2019 can bring a great change,” She is certain of that.