Thhe Samoan culture is becoming more and more influenced by western practices.
It is something that worries Iole Tulo’a, from the village of Malie-Uta. She and a group of women (Aualofa) work hard to preserve as much of our culture as possible.
The 76-year-old and other elderly women pass down lessons of traditional practices such as weaving, handicrafts and so on in hope that the lessons makes its way far into the future generations.
According to Iole, the longer you remain in such a group, the more you will learn from it.
“Having women gathering groups like the one we’re having here at our church brings me so much joy,” she told the Village Voice.
“The thing is, the longer you stick with these groups, the more you will learn. We learn a lot of things in our group. We learn how to make any sorts of handicrafts, we learn weaving, decoration work and many other types of traditional women activity which we still use today.”
Iole says that teaching different types of traditional skills isn’t the only thing that’s great about the group, the members get to keep whatever they make and it’s up to them if they want to sell it or not.
“Right now we are working with many other mothers on how to make many different types of mats,” she said.
“We teach one another these skills and it helps each individual family with their daily needs. The mats they learn how to make can be used to take care of the family or even be used for cultural gatherings.
“As we learn how to make the mats, once we’re done with it then it’s up to the maker on what to do with it.”
And when the crafts are sold, it grabs the maker quite a hefty profit.
“To tell you the truth, when these things are sold then it can make quite a bit of money,” Iole said.
“The money can then be used to purchase things that are needed in the family to make their lives easier. It can also be saved for emergency family faalavelave’s.”
Iole says that with so much changing around us, it’s good to join groups that will keep pieces of our culture imbedded into our lives.
“The one thing I have noticed is that there has been a lot of change these days,” she said.
“That’s why having groups like this who work together to preserve our culture is very important. We, the elders of the women, have a duty to pass down these lessons to the next generations.
“I teach these practices to my children and I help the learn how to properly make our traditional crafts because who knows, they might need it in the future.”
And just like that saying going, give a man a fish, feed a man for a day; but teaching a man how to fish will feed him for a lifetime.
“Our women’s church group work together to help each family with all sorts of things,” Iole said.
“That’s why we have such a big group. We believe that teaching someone how to help themselves is better than just giving them what they need.
“We focus a lot on mats because it is such a big part of our culture and it’s something that’s needed a lot.
“That’s what we’re all about. Having groups like this is very important to the Samoan culture and how we preserve it.”