Smiles and peals of laughter echoed across Mangaia school during the Pa Enua Action for Resilient Livelihoods Project last week, led by Miss World Oceania Tajiya Sahay.
Sahay is a climate change champion.
“We were honoured to have her join us on the trip, our school water project ties in directly with her Beauty with a Purpose and her Move with Me platform and we felt this was a wonderful partnership to engage with the youth and vulnerable communities,” said project coordinator Melina Tuiravakai.
“This is part of our project for strengthening drinking water security and building resilience in the Pa Enua for the school.
“She was able to see first-hand the struggles that our communities face, to listen to the voices of the vulnerable communities and to carry their message beyond the Cook Islands.”
Mangaia school has filtered water stations for the students and community to access; reusable water bottles were handed out to the students and at the Disability centre.
Sahay was impressed to learn that the schools have implemented their own assignments to encourage healthy living.
Every morning after roll call, all the kids go for a 15 minute walk, and only healthy foods are allowed at school, said Sahay.
“Some days they have just fruit and vegie days. Mangaia has a lot to offer in terms of healthy food, I was amazed to see the cucumbers, pineapples, bananas, sugar cane and other food crops.”
Sahay was happy to encourage healthy living and to discuss how essential it is to keep hydrated as well as contributing to reducing plastic.
“As our bodies are made up of 70 per cent water, it is essential that we have that access to clean drinking water.
“Having reusable bottles encourages our youth to take care of their bodies and to keep hydrated especially in our warm conditions.
“Not only does it play a huge part in living healthy lifestyles, reducing soft drink and juice, it contributes to helping our islands reduce plastic that contributes to helping our islands reduce plastic that drastically affect our land, oceans and marine life,” she continued.
She was delighted at the beautiful creations at the disability centre. “It was wonderful, also to learn how they collect the shells themselves, they are very talented, to see their big smiles of appreciation really warmed my heart.”
This was Sahay’s second trip to the island: “The people are extremely welcoming, they greeted me with open arms, with a turou from a young boy.
“I was able to visit the lake, rock pools and cave which was full of history, it is beautiful and very interesting.
“The children were very excited to see me and hear about my journey, and both pageants, they had many questions about my overseas travels.”
She encouraged the kids to always believe in themselves and to be proud of who they are, “to follow their dreams, they are capable of anything.”
As a follow up to her Move With Me Foundation, she provided the early years education classes with t-shirts to encourage physical activity, such as running, swimming and sports.
The promotions are designed to ensure access to safe and affordable drinking water and to increase the reliability and quality of water supplies in targeted areas.
Climate Change Coordinator Celine Dyer said, “investing in a reusable water bottle helps the environment in all the ways plastic water bottles harm it; by using fewer resources, emitting less harmful gas, and encouraging less single use plastic bottles.”