The Avele College multipurpose fale Samoa project was boosted by a $20,000 tala donation from the Avele College Old Pupils Association (ACOPA) of Queensland, Australia.
At a special ceremony held on Avele College grounds at Vailima, the President of ACOPA Queensland, Taulapapa Lemalu Roy Slade, presented a cheque to Samoa’s Minister of Works, Transport and Infrastructure, and Avele College alumni Hon Olo Fiti Vaai.
Taulapapa travelled to Samoa from Australia, together with members of the Brisbane-based association, to officially present the ACOPA Queensland contribution.
The multipurpose fale is one of several school improvement projects to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Avele College, set to be celebrated in June this year.
Speaking to Samoa Global News after the handover ceremony, Taulapapa Lemalu Roy Slade said they carry Avele College with them in their hearts, and as alumni living abroad, they will always rally behind school events such the 100 year celebration, and raise funds for school projects.
“Mo le matou asosi tama ma teine tuai o Avele i Kuiniselani, e faagalo gata i loto ma agaga le laumua na fofoa a’e ai ma maua ai le atamai ma le aoaoina..
“O le mafuaaga lena e susu’e ai pea le faamalama ma vaavaai mai i Samoa nei, ma fia togimaa fo’i i galuega o loo taumafai iai le afioga i le Minisita, ae maise o i latou uma o loo tapenaina lenei faamoemoe mo galuega e faamanatu ai le 100 tausaga o le laumua nei.”
The former Avele College Head Boy said he entered as a boarder in 1966. “Those were very difficult times with the school being located inland. We were known as the jungle school, away from everything..”
“We will never forget the years of being educated here at Avele College and today, we are proud of the school’s achievements despite it’s limited resources, Avele College has produced many community leaders here in Samoa and around the world..
“We fly the Avele College flag proudly in Australia, and want to thank our local communities in Brisbane and across Queensland for their generous contributions, making it possible for us to make this donation today.”
The President of ACOPA Queensland said they will continue to fundraise and hope to make another donation before the project is completed.
Hon Olo Afoa Fiti Vaai expressed his gratitude to ACOPA Queensland for the donation and said it was also an honour for him to meet Taulapapa and others who had helped establish the school in its earlier years.
“I am blessed to be here today, not only to receive this generous donation towards the fale project, but for the chance to meet and fellowship with legends of our school,” said Olo.
“Lemalu entered the school in 1966, when I was just a one-year old! He still looks youthful,” the Minister compliments, “especially compared to our Class of 1980, who are supposed to be twenty years younger!” jokes Olo.
Olo says Avele College has produced many leaders who have contributed to Samoa’s development in many different fields.
“In our Class [of 1980] we have Leu Alani who is a judge of the Lands and Titles Court, MP for Safata 2 Leaana Ronnie Posala, Deputy Speaker Mulipola Auapaau Aloitafua and many others now working in different sectors of Samoa.”
Project manager, Leiataualesa Lino Tagiilima spoke on behalf of the local committee to express their appreciation for the generous financial contribution.
“This donation takes our total project funds to $70,000 tala,” said Leiataualesa who added that their committee maintains a high level of transparency and accountability for all the hard earned donations and monetary support received.
“We have also received $30,000 tala from the ACOPA of Sydney led by Leiataua Faleata, and $15,000 from ACOPA Samoa, as well as individual gifts and donations from Ministers of Cabinet.”
Leiataualesa called other ACOPA associations for support, noting there are fundraising activities being held around the world, in the name of Avele College’s 100 year celebration.
He acknowledged the Government of Samoa for the decision to reopen the school that was once under threat of closing.
Leiataualesa also thanked Minister Olo Afoa Fiti Vaai, who is the Patron of Class 1980, for filling and leveling the land, now ready and set to be used as the foundation of the fale project, planned for launching by June.
The school website boasts Avele College as “the place they called the Jungle, Home of the Lauma’alili and Puataunofo”. First established in 1923 “by 24 gentlemen” including its very first Head Boy, Anapu Solofa. It then officially opened in June 1924.
The title ‘Avele’ was derived from a Samoan myth pillarizing a young woman, ‘Sinaleavele’.
Avele expanded to include girls in 1996 and today the Avele pride continues with school successes academically, as well as in various community engagements and in sports. This year, Avele College student and Pacific Games taekwondo athlete, Ryan Eteuati, was named Best Male Athlete of the Year by the Ministry of Education.
The colllege uniform; a forest-green with three gold-yellow stripes is always adorned with the ula-sisi from Niue and the puataunofo flower worn behind the ear.
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