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Samoan locals celebrate life - and their day -

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SHANE MCLEOD: In Australia, hundreds of Samoans are gathering in Sydney today to celebrate that
country's national day. The special celebration had been planned well before last week's earthquake
and tsunami struck the island nation.

The World Today's Meredith Griffiths is in the centre of the festivities at Granville in Sydney's
western suburbs, and she joins us now.

Meredith, in Peter Cave's report we heard life is going on amidst the devastation. What's the
feeling like among Samoan Australians here?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Life is certainly going on, Shane. It is really festive down here in Granville
in Sydney's west. There's BBQs grilling, there is music playing. People are dancing. There is a
pretty fiercely contested rugby game on at the moment and the crowd here is breaking into cheers.
I'm sorry if it drowns me out.

There is volleyball going on. Kids have their chance. They had all these sort of athletic events
for them early this morning.

You don't have to go too far to find people whose lives obviously have been incredibly badly
touched by the tragedy in Samoa. One man here has lost something like 10 relatives back in Samoa
and about 20 people he knows are still missing. Some of the players out in the field today have
also lost loved ones back in Samoa.

So obviously, this is an annual event that normally is one of much joy and today I think people are
really trying. There is a lot of fun. People are enjoying themselves but obviously they can't
forget what has been going on back home.

But I think that the people that I have been speaking to have been saying that they were glad that
this day had been planned. They were glad they had it to look forward to because it is very
important for the community to come together and to share their stories and by talking and by
sharing their grief, they are beginning to try to work their way through that and begin to think
about what things they can best do to help people back in Samoa.

SHANE MCLEOD: Meredith, is that part of today? Is it about collecting charity to help people back
in Samoa?

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Yeah, it certainly, certainly is. I think that a couple of the community groups
had begun a little bit of fundraising last week but today was really the beginning of the big push
for fundraising. There has been announcements throughout the morning about where people can go to
make pledges, to offer money to a fund that will then go to help reconstruction back in Samoa.

The referee, because as I mentioned, sport is a big deal today and lots of sporting events are
going on and the referees have all waived their match fees. They said don't pay us. Please give
that money instead to the cause.

So it is sort of the beginning of the building effort and again, as I said, many people said that
trying to get out as a community was important and part of that they said was they wanted to begin
to sit down together and have chats and work out what is the best way to help people back in Samoa,
where should the money best be spent? How can they best support people who have lost so very much?

SHANE MCLEOD: Alright, Meredith Griffiths there at Granville in western Sydney. Thank you.