Sixteen-year-old Feagaiga Stowers is quite a story. Hers is a story of overcoming the odds and doing the best you can with whatever life throws your way.
A survivor of abuse who is housed by the Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G), Stowers is living proof that life is what you make it.
Having represented Samoa during the Commonwealth Youth Games last year, this time, she is preparing to represent Samoa at the Oceania Championships in Fiji in May, giving her the trip of a lifetime.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Stowers said she is very humbled by the opportunity given to her by her Coach, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork.
“This is a chance for me to represent our country and it will be a chance for me to travel as this trip will be my first time on the plane,” she said. “I never thought that I would be given this opportunity to travel outside of Samoa.
I am so looking forward to this trip and I am working extra hard to make sure I get a gold medal from that competition.”
Stowers has a very good chance. She won a silver medal last year and her preparations have placed her in a good position to go one better in the Oceania. “It never crossed my mind that I would be participating in this kind of sport. As a matter of fact I never knew such a sport existed in Samoa,” she said.
“But I’m here and I have made it this far. I am very grateful to Mama Lina of the S.V.S.G for pushing me hard to do something that actually matters in life.”
Mama Lina is Siliniu Lina Chang, the President of S.V.S.G. “It’s not an easy sport,” she added. “It’s really hard but with hard work I know this sport will take me to places that I have never been to before.”
Looking back to her journey, Stowers is grateful .
“I have been through so much in life. Not being able to be with family is the saddest thing and with everything that I have been through, I used to think my life didn’t mean anything.
“It was so hard for me to open up to anyone, I had a very hard time trusting people and I guess the only person that I trusted was our Mama Lina.
“I used to be afraid of the outside world and I thought that everyone was just as evil as the people who hurt me.
“[But] I was wrong. I was pushed by Lina to try out weightlifting and so I did and at first I was shy and then I got to train with Tuaopepe and I saw how amazing it is to be noticed and appreciated by people and that really cheered me up.
“So coming in here has made me realise that what happened in past is the past but it is up to us to choose which pathway to take, it is up to us whether we dwell on the past or start a new beginning for our own self.
“[And] I chose to start a new beginning for me and so I am blessed to say God has chosen someone like me to be recognized by the world.
“He has really blessed my life despite what I have been through, and that will be my living testimony to the rest of the world.”
Stowers, 16, hails from Faala, Savai’i.