More than fifty villagers from Safata District, turned up at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session, held at the Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish.
Coordinated by the Classmates Class of '81, the initiative aimed to inform and educate people in the rural areas on the causes of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and the various types of cancers, and more importantly, ways to avoid them through healthy living.
Dr. Evangeline Reyes, who is currently one of the resident physicians at the Leulumoega Tuai District Hospital, conducted a presentation and through illustrations explained why the various health problems occur.
Translating was Registered Nurse Patosina Tugaga who was assisted by the Lotofaga, Safata C.C.C.S. pastor's wife, Lisa Perelini who used to be a Registered Nurse.
Rev. Feata Perelini said the participants were from various Christian denominations in the five villages of Safata District - Nuusuatia, Lotofaga, Vaie'e, Sa'anapu and Sataoa.
Also present was C.C.C.S. Sa'anapu-uta pastor, Rev. Denny Epati, and retired C.C.C.S. pastor Rev. Alafau Amani.
During the Talanoa Session, Rev. Alafau Amani shared his journey to recovery after being bedridden because of excruciating pain in his legs and chest.
He recalled that the doctor he saw at the hospital advised him to consult Matuaileoo Environment Trust Inc. (M.E.T.I.), a non-governmental organisation which focuses on the environment, health, farming and education.
At M.E.T.I., he was introduced to a meat-free diet which also prohibited fish, milk and eggs.
"It was hard but I really wanted to be healthy, so I stuck with it," he recalled.
Two weeks later, his weight dropped from 130 kilos to 112kilos!
"It was very encouraging and I kept at it," he said, "and now I am walking and working in my plantation!"
Several participants commented that after Dr. Reyes' presentation on the various diseases caused by excessive eating of unhealthy food, they will watch what they eat.
"This has been a very enlightening programme and the message is quite clear to me," said Egele Andrews.
"We are what we eat. So if we eat healthy food, we will be healthy! So it's entirely up to us if we want to be healthy! It's like the program's motto, 'Healthy Self, Heal Thyself.'"