I started this journey almost five years ago now after my son (second child) was born. I was in despair to find that there was absolutely nothing for my young kids to watch in the Sāmoan and Tongan languages (and I’m sure this is the same for a lot of our Pacific parents).
Long story, short - after many years of trying, I quickly developed three Sāmoan Song animations to upload to YouTube in 2018. This would not have been possible without the kindness of Rita Seumanutafa and the Melbourne Sāmoan Choir, who selflessly allowed me to animate some of their music. With the guidance of a colleague, I created these song animations within a six month period, while juggling mum life, contract work and the kids' extracurricular activities.
They, the animations, weren't the best in terms of design aesthetics, as I'd quickly sourced almost all of the background illustrations from royalty-free sites and contracted to another illustrator the development of the characters. I was on a mission to have three song animations completed on my own (personal) record time of six months!
I ultimately wanted to prove that with the right people, this work, this vision, can be achieved within the community at a relatively fast pace. This work needs to be pumped out before my youngest child turns 5 (funny, not funny?-kinda-situation).
We have barely scratched the surface!
Working together with local community groups or schools could be a catalyst to getting out these much needed digital resources for all to use. To work directly with teachers who are in need of more effective learning resources, and to work with and train up and coming youth who might otherwise be unsure of their future but have the artistic talents that can be developed further and harnessed in the world of Technology.
Also, our parents and cherished grandparents are getting older. Some have passed on and the cultural knowledge and language along with them. We are at a truly critical stage and although I started this journey alone I am always on the lookout for real passionate people to help with the PKL Vision.
In the meantime, I’m finishing up the very first Tongan Alphabet Song animation - in partnership with Siaola (Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission) and funded through the Ministry for Pacific People’s: Toloa Community Fund. The support has allowed room for a bit of creative freedom and has brought together professionals within the Tongan community to help bring the project to life with its unique Tongan flavour, paying homage to the old and bringing in a new refreshing sound for the kids to enjoy.
I’m.. or we (Pacific Kids’ Learning), are now in the process of getting the right people on board to help us fill this digital space.
I can’t wait to work on the next song or story animation so that our young children have something to enjoy other than Baby Shark.
It would be great to see our Pacific kids feel confident in their cultural identity.
Evo Leota - Freelance Graphic Designer and self-taught Animator.
(Blog Photo: Me with our eldest daughter, Elenoa, 2012)