‘It is all about grabbing the opportunity because it may only come around once’. This was the most common feedback from the women of Siutu who attended the livelihood training carried out by Samoa Victim Support Group.
Centered at the Women’s Committee Fale in Siutu, this was the first time a program has reached this village. And the interest from the whole village of Siutu was seen by the attendance and participation by elderly village leaders and nofotane women.
According to a village elder and high chief Mulipola Loia “There have been a lot of programs that just passed Siutu, but this was the first program that was specifically for the women of Siutu.” Mulipola Anarosa Ale-Molio’o, the Chair of the Project Advisory Committee accompanied the S.V.S.G. President during this special training for the women of Siutu.
Siutu is rich in tapa cloth making. So while the trainers for the Nofotane Project went out there to empower the women of Siutu with skills in commercial cooking, handicraft, flower arrangement and fabric painting, they were in return trained on the whole process of making tapa, from extracting the bulk of the mulberry tree to the traditionally printing methods for the cloth.
Here were women with a rare talent, yet did not realize how far they can go when their products are properly marketed. A traditional cloth that can be used in various ways, Siutu’s tapa clothing were turned into coasters, sei, table mats, wall display and others. Some of the tapa clothing were brought back to Apia by the training team. A day later, SVSG had transferred to these newly established entrepreneur proceeds from the sale of their tapa clothing.
You can hear the excitement in their voices when we contacted these women to pick up their funds from the closest Western Union branch in Savaii. This is the expected outcome of the project; to empower nofotane women with skills necessary for them to earn a living to support themselves and their families.
“A nofotane woman will always be a nofotane; the project is not attempting to change this cultural aspect of the FaaSamoa. The project merely aims to improve the economic empowerment of women and to increase their participation in domestic and community matters, as these are some of the most important contributing factors to achieving gender equality.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President
“Thank you so much to the village leaders, the Women’s Committee and the women of Siutu for your hospitality, as you hosted the project team throughout the week.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President