Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Samoan teenager who leads a growing chorus of Small Voices

Brianna Fruean on left at the Pacific Youth Environment Network 2013 Meeting

By Maryann Lockington, journalism student at USP

3 December 2013, Suva Fiji - Fifteen-year-old Brianna Fruean was one of the young environmentalists who travelled to Suva for the regional nature conservation forum this week. It does not take long to figure out that Ms Fruean is not your average teenager, having already formed an organisation of her own in Samoa.

Ms Fruean was always interested in environmental issues and started a children's eco-group called Small Voices with her friends at Vaiala Beach School when she was 11 years old.

"My mum and sister help me out a lot. My dad is my main inspiration and he was the one who taught me how to speak," she said.

Ms Fruean lost her father in March this year and lives with her sister and mother in Samoa.

She is also one of the youngest participants of the Pacific Youth Environment Network (PYEN).

"I came to help out as a facilitator for PYEN so that I can be involved in a youth network that spreads across the Pacific," she said.

Ms Fruean first represented Samoa in 2009 to the United Nations Environment Programme Tunza conference in Daejeon Korea and also in Nagoya, Japan in 2010. In 2010 she helped initiate a tree-planting event as a way to raise awareness.

"Samoa had pledged to plant one million trees and I thought we could contribute by planting trees," Ms Fruean said.  She was referred to the CEO of Environment who helped her get the event started. 

The organisation for children called Small Voices in Samoa has now spread to at least five other schools since it was founded in 2010.

"The cool thing about Small Voices is although not all members will go into environmental studies, whatever they do, they'll always have a green mindset," she said. Ms Fruean said that she was hoping to expand Small Voices in the future.

"Once Small Voices gets established fully in Samoa, I'm thinking to start one in Fiji," she said. "I want to make it a good-size network that can continue when I leave."

Maryann Lockington is a member of the Media Team providing coverage of the 9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas from 2 to 6 December in Suva, Fiji. This is a partnership between the Fiji National University (FNU), University of the South Pacific (USP), SPREP and Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) whereby a team of 10 journalism students are mentored by senior reporters as they cover the conference. This activity is funded by the Pacific Assistance Media Scheme (PACMAS).

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