Twelve-year-old Samoan student Lupeoaunu’u Va’ai won a Gold Medal award for her story ‘The Voice of an Island’ in the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Story Writing Competition last year.
This week, she is in London for the launch of her book, and as a Voices of Future Generations Child Author, she has committed to turning her book into a series, writing one story each year until 2020.
It’s not every day that an aspiring author can say they have a published book and will be writing a series for the next five years, and for Miss Lupeoaunu’u Va’ai, a 12-year-old from Vaoala, Samoa this is a dream come true.
“I am so happy; I never ever thought that something like this would happen to me,” said Lupeoaunu’u.
She was 11 when she entered in the 2015 competition, which called for stories from child authors from across the globe, winning a Gold Medal Award for her story centred on a young girl named Katalina.
The book cover as illustrated by Karen Webb Meek
The Voices of Future Generations Children’s Book Series is created in partnership with the United Nations and aims to share different voices from children around the world on the challenges they think they will face in the future, and the solutions they feel are within their reach. This is in line with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement in a way that realises the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lupeoaunu’u Va’ai, known as Lupe, was one of two Pacific islanders awarded a gold medal from the Pacific islands. The other gold medallist was Tyra Sioni from Papua New Guinea.
“I was so surprised to know that I had won a gold medal for my book! I wrote this story on what I have felt, thought and heard from the stories from my great-grandmother, it was easy for me to write as it came from my heart,” said Lupe. “I hope people like it, and that we can learn from it and help save our Samoa and our planet.”
Lupe attends St Mary’s Primary School, and her favourite subjects include Maths, English, Social Studies and Basic Science. She loves learning about the environment and has established an environmental group in her school.
This week, she is in London attending the Inter-generational Learning Circle on Inter-generational Equity, Children’s Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals hosted by the Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) and The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
The four-day event, running from 7 – 10 July, includes the launch of an international partnership between VoFG and Bloomsbury Publishing, which will be publishing the child authors books, and the launch of the books at The Houses of Parliament. Lupe will be launching her book as well as participating in panel and roundtable discussions, story sessions and an awards celebration evening. The third day will be a Child Artists and Authors Biodiversity Workshop at Cambridge University grounds with a visit to The Living Rainforest and a Circle of All Beings workshop focusing on protection of animals on the last day.
“I’m so excited and nervous about this, it’s my first time to travel for such a long time on a plane, and to go to London,” said Lupe. “I hope to make friends with children from different places and countries and learn about the different problems that other children my age experience and the ways they think we can fix them, it may be something that we can do also.”
The Voice of an Island touches on the topics of climate change, biodiversity protection and education. Because of these links, Lupe will be speaking during the session on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals on Climate Change, Biodiversity, Energy and Innovation during the four-day event.
Lupe will be writing blogs on her journey, which has been supported by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Government of Samoa and its Strengthening Multi-Sectoral Management of Critical Landscapes in Samoa project, Samoa Stationery & Books and the Principal, Staff and Students of St. Mary’s School, Savalalo.
You can learn more about Lupe’s book “The Voice of an Island” at this link: http://voicesoffuturegenerations.org/books1.html, but first, we hear from Lupe in her very first blog on her journey.
Hi! My name is Lupe!
“Hi, my name is Lupeoaunu’u Va’ai, but you can call me Lupe. I am 12 years old and I am from Vaoala in Samoa. I am currently in Year 8 at St Mary’s Primary School, Savalalo. My hobbies are reading, writing, dancing, learning about the environment, and spending time with my friends. Last year, I entered the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Story Writing Competition, and I wrote an environment-based story which included my island and all the effects and impacts that the pollution is having on it. The main topic is about a girl named Katalina who tries her best to save her grandma’s paradise. Surprisingly, my story won the Gold Certificate. I was very excited and happy! There was a prizegiving in New York last year; unfortunately I was unable to participate in that. Then this year I was invited to travel London where I will be able to launch my book which was published and receive my award! I am so excited to be here in London already and looking forward to finally get to learn more about the other young writers who won prizes. I hope to know what they are doing to help the environment, or what their stories are about. I left my home in Apia, the capital of Samoa, through 3 plane trips, transit in 2 other countries, a train and a taxi ride over the course of 2 and a half days, to be here in London today because many people believed in me. This has given me the courage to continue my story and to make a difference as the environment is very important and not just to the Pacific countries but to all countries of the world. You will be able to read my book after I launch it and if you like it, that’s great! I will be writing more stories about Katalina and her adventures and journeys while trying to save Earth from pollution, global warming, sea level rise and many more!”