I read the book Nafanua Saving the Somoan Rain Forest by Paul Cox. Paul Cox is LDS and I don’t know if he is currently at BYU but he taught here while he was writing the book. This book was a narrative of his experiences while he was on sabbatical in Samoa. I was expecting the book to be more peer reviewed type articles but it seemed more like the author was writing in his journal about his daily activities and by the time he got home realized that he could easily just write a book from his journal entries. This made the book very easy to read because it flowed with his daily activities.
His initial intent for being in Samoa was to study the plants chemical natures and see if there was anything that could be made into drugs to prevent diseases. He took his whole family to Samoa for the year and although he could speak the language because he had previously served a mission in Samoa, his family didn’t know the language and customs and tried to assimilate themselves the best that they could. The family eventually was accepted into the community as members and they increasingly became more and more aware of the problems that faced the people of this island.
As they became more and more involved Paul Cox realized that he had a opportunity to save their rain forest that was going to be sold and chopped down by loggers so the small community could afford to build a new school for their children. He raised money and involved many people stateside in order to prevent the forest from being destroyed. He constantly is struggling to bridge the gap between the Samoan people and the international viewpoints of Samoa and their need for aid.
Some of the impressions that I got from the book is that there are a lot of people who desperately need help but they just don’t know who or where to turn to. These people had to come up with about $60,000 to build a new school. They didn’t have anywhere near the resources and the only way that they knew how was to sell the rain forest to loggers. They cherished the rain forest and in the past had done everything in their power to preserve it but they also knew that the education of their children was the only way to ensure their future. They felt that they had no choice. Paul Cox was able to help them in ways that they would have never imagined.
Another impression that I got was that one person can do a lot when they put their mind to it. Paul Cox had wavered on his decision to help with the rainforest because initially he wasn’t sure if he could raise the money necessary or not and he wasn’t sure if he was willing to lose all of his personal assets to save this rain forest. There was a point that he decided that enough was enough and he was going to do everything in his power even if it meant that he would sell his house in Provo and other things to finance the school in Samoa. It just shows that he felt that he could make a difference and he may not get another chance to make an impact like he did again in his lifetime. He seized the moment and ran with it and hard as he could. Honestly I don’t think that I could make a decision like that and put so much on the line like he did but I guess the morale of the story is find something that drives you and ride it out to the fullest.
Although I do not share Paul Cox’s same passion about saving the rain forests and will probably never involve myself the same way that he did with the village in Samoa, I can prepare myself to be able to act quickly and authoritatively when opportunities present themselves. By positioning myself so that I can be of help in the future, opportunities will present themselves that may have not opened up otherwise.
(I read this book all the way through)