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Leone Healing Garden dedicated as a place to hope ...

Those who lost loved ones in Leone during the September 2009 tsunami were joined by the Leone Village Council, government officials, families and friends of the eleven victims to dedicate the Leone Healing Garden over the weekend.

“The Leone Healing Garden is a sign of hope for the residents of Leone and those who lost loved ones in the September tsunami,” said Chairman of the Leone Healing Garden Committee, Ipu Avegalio Lefiti. She told Samoa News the Garden was made to bring the families of the victims together, allowing them to be in a place where they can grieve and celebrate life at the same time.

“Nine months after the tsunami, we saw our people still struggling, suffering silently and it was really hard and so we asked around and that was how we were able to understand how our people were affected by the disaster,” she said.

“It was through that, the idea of a healing garden came along... because we were thinking what can we do to help our people... and we thought about a garden and its concept.

“It began as a very small project and it started growing. The idea is bringing community together, the hard work is for the men to socialize and at the same time share their story... the garden is for the women and children as they pour out their grief, they will also plant,” said Ipu. The sculpture, which is in the center of the garden, is surrounded by plaques which have the photos of the eleven victims from Leone.

The names embedded on the plaques are Vaijoresa Niuaveva Fitiao, Columbus Sauiluma, Tulu’iga Sauiluma, Helen Taumaloto Seui, Taua Liutolo, Michelle Emani P Eneliko, Nguyen Van Tho, Elena Fa’amuina Salave’a, Fuatino Atumata Salave’a, Lagi Uele-Mua, and Fa’atamali’i Saka So’oto.

Ipu said that the garden was made possible with the assistance from many people who donated their time and effort for the project.

The Garden was blessed by Father Kolio Tumanuvao, while scripture and sermon were delivered by Reverend Eteuatti Toma of the CCCAS. Representatives from families of the victims did the honor of cutting the ribbon.

Fiu Johnny Saelua, who served as master of ceremony explained the meaning of the sculpture, situated in the center of the healing garden.

“The tree trunk is a breadfruit tree which grows in every bit of this village — and this tree helped saved lives. The leaf that is starting to grow from the tree trunk is a sign of God’s love for everyone. The breadfruit has many roots, some die while some still keep on growing.The tea leaves that surround the tree trunk is the tsunami and on top of is the dove.”

“The dove takes us back to the beginning of time with Noah. That dove had an olive leaf, but we have a rose on our sculpture.”

“The rose represents our loved ones whose lives were taken as a result of the tsunami”, explained Fiu.

The sculpture was made by Patrick Mafo’e, a local resident of Lepuapua.

Among the guests was Attorney General Fepulea’i Arthur Ripley who represented the government. He said the garden will serve as a memorial to our beloved family members who lost their lives in the wake of the earthquake and the tsunami that devastated Leone village September 2009.

“It will serve as a place for healing the pain and the difficulty and the loss of the loved ones, through prayer. “This garden will also serve as a reminder to us all of the power of mother nature and our need to respect it.”

“The healing garden reflects the many blessings that Leone continues to receive from our God,” said the AG, who also noted how Christianity first arrived in Leone in 1836 when the  Rev John Williams of the London Missionary Society came ashore to spread the good news of Christianity.